PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is considering a proposal to build a major highway to connect all seven merged tribal districts at the whopping cost of Rs70 billion.
The documents available with Dawn show that the proposed high-speed 750 miles long highway will connect all merged districts from Bajaur in the north to Waziristan in the south.
These districts, which made Fata before the tribal region’s merger with KP, lack communication network to interlink them.
According to the documents, since highways play pivotal role in the socioeconomic development of an area, the government has decided to construct the high-speed highway to interlink all seven tribal districts.
Documents show road will also be alternative CPEC route
The proposed highway will begin in Munda area bordering Lower Dir and Bajaur districts in the north of the province and end in Gul Kach area bordering South Waziristan district and Balochistan’s Zhob district in the south.
The highway will be around 750 kilometers long and will cost around Rs70 billion.
Originally, it was proposed to build a two-lane highway at the cost of Rs27 billion.
However, minister for communication and works department Akbar Ayub Khan called for a four-lane expressway with connections to all five major border crossings with Afghanistan.
The documents showed that the proposed highway would be connected with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s northern route, N-45, in Timergara area of Lower Dir district, while on the other hand, it would touch N-45 of the Western Corridor in Zhob district of Balochistan.
If the need arises, the highway running through entire length of merged districts will also be used as alternative route of the CPEC.
The documents showed that the highway was likely to boost trade ties with Afghanistan greatly by connecting five main border crossings of Nawa Pass in Bajaur tribal district, Torkham in Khyber tribal district, Kharlachi in Kurram tribal district, Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan tribal district and Angoor Ada in South Waziristan tribal district.
Funds for these projectsare likely come from the 10 Years Merged Areas Development Programme under which the federal government has already allocated Rs10 billion in its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19.
Communication and works minister Akbar Ayub Khan told Dawn that his department was working on the proposal and that it was eager to construct an expressway to connect all merged districts.
He also said work on a proposal was under way to build roads in rural areas throughout the tribal region to improve connectivity.
Mr Ayub said the proposed highway was likely to be a game-changer for the conflict-hit region and it was likely to boost connectivity and trading activities, which would benefit the region economically.
He said his department recently assumed the merged districts’ infrastructure responsibility from the merged areas secretariat and was actively pursuing the project, which was likely to play a major role in the mainstreaming of the region.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019