PESHAWAR: A major portion of the Swat Expressway from Kernal Sher Khan interchange in Swabi to Katlang interchange in Mardan covering a distance of 50 kilometres will be opened for traffic on May 21 (Monday), while the next phase covering 30kms from Katlang to Chakdara will be operational in December.

A statement issued here on Friday said according to estimate, over 18,000 vehicles will ply on the road daily. Once completed, the project will prove to be a major game-changer for the province, generating not only the much-needed revenue but also providing tremendous prospects for development of transport, communication and tourism in the province.

The expressway is one such project which a provincial is constructing under the Public Private Partnership Act, 2014, and will be completed at an estimated cost of Rs38 billion.

The 81-kilometre Expressway will connect Karnal Sher Khan Interchange on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway with Chakdara tunneling its way through mountains at Palai and Ala Dhand. Two kilometres of the expressway fall in the vicinity of Nowshera, 18kms in Swabi, 40kms in Mardan and 21kms in Malakand. The total width of the expressway will be 80 meters.

According to officials of the Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority, the length of the tunnels is about two kilometres. With the completion of the Swat Expressway, the journey from Karnal Sher Khan Interchange to Chakdara will take only 45 minutes as opposed to more than two hours presently.

The expressway is being constructed on the pattern of motorway with as many as four lanes which will be extended to six lanes afterwards.

Interchanges on the expressway will be constructed at Dhobian, Ismaila, Bakshalay, Katlang, Palai and Chakdara. It will provide access to more than 40 villages which were previously inaccessible generating numerous business opportunities for the locals.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2018