ISLAMABAD: A number of road projects related to the $52 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are said to be in doldrums as the National Highway Authority (NHA) faces financial crisis.

Sources told Dawn that contractors have stopped work on several CPEC projects after their cheques worth over Rs5 billion had bounced a couple of days ago.

It is for the first time that CPEC projects faced such a situation because of financial reasons.

The projects which have been hit by the situation include Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan, Western Route of CPEC and all sections of Karachi-Lahore Motorway (KLM).

According to the sources, seven packages of Hakla-DIK measuring 400km roads all projects of KLM have been affected.

The firms whose cheques have bounced include SKB, ZKB, Noman Construction, ACGC Chinese, Sardar Ashraf D Baloch, China Railway 17 Group and Matracon.

The sources said that not only the CPEC projects but local industries related to construction and a large workforce of engineers and labourers have also been hit by the situation.

When contacted, NHA spokesman Kashif Zaman said the authority issued cheques of Rs5bn on June 29 to the firms against the sanction by the government.

He said cheques worth Rs1.5bn were cleared by the same day and “the remaining cheques that were deposited the next day could not be cleared”.

Mr Zaman said the matter had been taken up with the government and hopefully it would be resolved soon.

When asked about suspension of work by the contractors, he said: “The progress on the project had not been affected. Same is true for Hazara Motorway and other sections.”

He said most of the projects in question would be completed by December 2018.

However, it has been learnt that the CPEC projects would be delayed further if the situation continues and outstanding dues of contractors are not paid.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2018

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