ISLAMABAD, Dec 16: After consuming more than Rs2.5 billion and 22 months, the Pak-China Friendship Centre is ready to be handed over to the culture ministry.

The centre, which was a gift from the Chinese government for the people of Pakistan, would jointly be used for cultural exchanges, displays, conferences and other shows that are expected to strengthen friendship and cultural ties.

“The soft landscape work of the centre is likely to be completed before its inauguration by the Chinese prime minister who is visiting Pakistan in the next few days,” said a senior official at the culture ministry, explaining how his ministry would then take over operations, maintenance and management after it is opened to public.

The centre built by the Shanghai Construction Group houses a colossal 800-seat auditorium, exhibition centre, conference rooms, banquet halls, dance and art centre, function areas, 60 five-star residential accommodation with a coffee shop and special dining rooms.

Approved by Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec), the Capital Development Authority (CDA) provided 12 acres worth Rs261.36 million in Shakarparian opposite to the crescent star sculpture for the multi-billion rupees project.

The CDA also handled the support expenditure such as clearance of material coming in containers from China, accommodation for Chinese officers, electricity connections, transportation and fuel, etc.

Officials with the ministry were pleased with the pace of the construction. “Prefabricated equipment was brought from China that hastened construction,” said the senior official. The foundation stone for the project was laid in April 2005.

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