ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on Thursday expressed concerns over the impediments in implementation of axle load policy, which can cause exponential damage to road infrastructure and have huge cost implications.

The committee in its meeting held here recommended that the Ministry of Communications may resolve such impediments by calling consultative meeting with all transport departments of provinces and regions, industrialists and other stakeholders to seek their input and implement the policy in true spirit. This, according to the committee chairman MNA Sher Ali Arbab, was necessary to protect road infrastructure and facilitate smooth regulation of trade.

Various government officials such as the additional secretary of Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, additional secretary of Ministry of Interior, additional secretary of Ministry of Communications, joint secretary of Ministry of Water Resources and Member (Water) Wapda briefed committee members of agenda items of the Committee on previous and current axle load policy in Pakistan.

The policy oversees road infrastructure projects under CPEC framework and international best practices. The committee was a comprehensive briefing on Chashma Right Bank Canal.

The CPEC committee also took up issuance of work visas to Chinese workers.

During the briefing from the officials concerned on previous and current axle load policy in Pakistan, the committee chairman remarked that facilitating trade and enhancing investments in Pakistan were long-term envisaged goals of CPEC.

“Success of CPEC hinges upon effective and timely operationalisation of Gwadar and Special Economic Zones,” he stressed.

The committee further observed that Chashma Right Bank Canal could be a viable and inventive project for agricultural production.

It was agreed that after the completion of feasibility study on Chashma Right Bank Canal, the committee would thoroughly examine the project.

“If need be, the negotiations with Chinese government would be initiated to place the project under CPEC framework,” Sher Ali Arbab suggested.

He also remarked that the efforts made by Interior Ministry to avoid delays and expedite the issuance of work visas by introducing online facility would significantly benefit Pakistan to ensure smooth movement of people, commodities and marked increase in trade and investment.

“People of Afghanistan desire to invest in Pakistan. By introducing such facilities, Pakistan would be able to attract more investment from Afghanistan, which due to absence of provisions in Pakistan is diverted to other neighbouring countries,” he argued.

Avoiding procrastination in issuance of work, medical and education visas to foreigners would not only facilitate Pakistan’s trade with other countries but also bolster the country’s bilateral relations with neighbouring nations, members of the committee observed.

The committee deferred the briefing on Gwadar Fencing Project to provide sufficient time to the department concerned for preparing an inclusive briefing in the next meeting.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021

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