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China to help Pakistan expand strategic road links

Discussion in 'Pakistan Economy' started by Gryphon, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Gryphon

    Gryphon SENIOR MEMBER

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    Sunday, 14 July 2013

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    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will soon be embarking on an ambitious plan to expand its strategic road, rail network to ease travel and facilitate trade with the Central Asian Republics, China and other regional countries.

    Among the eight agreements inked during Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif's visit to China, one is the US $18 billion project to build a road and rail track, including string of tunnels in the mountainous track passing over a height 4,693 meters to be used as part of the Pakistan-China Economic corridor.

    The economic corridor, planned to boost trade between the two countries, will use the existing 1300 km long Karakoram Highway (KKH), including a new section that is currently being realigned due to construction of the Diamer Bhasha Dam, and a 700 km extension further South up to the Gwadar Port, for fast transportation of goods.

    The KKH that is currently undergoing an expansion is being made into an all weather modern highway with ability to handle trucks with 40 feet containers and on completion will cut down the journey from over 30 hours to 20, from Khunjerab to Islamabad.

    Work on the expansion of the KKH that was scheduled to complete in 2013 was delayed due to the landslide at Attabad and submerging of the road.

    The Prime Minister was informed that work on the Attabad Lake would be completed by 2016 while the rehabilitation of KKH would complete a year earlier.

    Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif called for early completion of the repair and rehabilitation works on Karakorum Highway. He termed the road link as of utmost importance and said it should be rehabilitated without any delay so that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and China flourish.

    He also urged the Chinese company's head to accomplish the rehabilitation work on Attabad Lake and surrounding areas.

    The interest of the Chinese govenment in the project is quite obvious as it provides a shorter access to the Arabian Sea, the sea route through which almost 20 per cent of world's oil supply passes.

    The link will also give China shortest route for its exports to the Gulf, Africa and Europe, prompting Premier Li Keqaing to say that China has strategic interest in this Corridor. The KKH currently links Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Autonomous region with Abbottabad.

    Under the ambitious plans Pakistan and China will be studying addition of a railway track along the KKH. With the addition of a rail link, the goods that now take over a month through the sea route, will take only ten days to reach their destination, between the two countries.

    Both the countries also plan to upgrade their cargo handling ability at their borders, which is confined to 100,000 metric tons, owing to the poor road linkage. China has already started a study to find a suitable location for a railway station at Kashgar.

    Yuan Jianmin, Director of Xinjiang Logistic Association was quoted in a news report as saying that "a railway link between China and Pakistan railway would transform Kashgar and allow it to truly become an economic hub."

    As part of plan to enhance communication linkages the Strategic Communication Organization (SCO) of Pakistan and Huawei inked a document during Prime Minister's visit, for laying optic fiber for a fast communication link between Pakistan and China. It includes an over 800 kms long Optical Fibre Cable from the Chinese border to Rawalpindi (OFC), along the Karakoram Highway.

    It will connect Pakistan and Trans-Asia Europe (TAE) cable in China, enabling both the countries to have alternative routes for their international telecom traffic. At Present, Pakistan is connected to the world through undersea cables, including; SEA-ME-WE 3&4, IMEWE and TWA-1. Pakistan and China also agreed to work on construction of a motorway between Lahore and Karachi.

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed completion of the Motorway within two and half years, following the completion of the feasibility study of the project in three months.

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who has to his credit the construction of Pakistan's first Motorway between Lahore and Islamabad said his government would not compromise on quality of the work. He hoped the project would benefit the people of all four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

    "It is a historic day. Once this project completes, the travel time would reduce remarkably and would ultimately promote business activities in the region," Nawaz Sharif said.

    Currently Lahore is linked with a M-3 Motorway with Faisalabad, while work on M-4 Faisalabad-Multan section is underway. The previous cabinet early this year approved the award of contract to the Frontier Works Organisation for the construction of the 136 kms long M-9 Motorway to link Karachi with Hyderabad. However work on the remaining sections south of Multan is yet to start.

    Prime Minister Sharif said the government was committed to provide comfortable and affordable transport facilities to its citizens within minimum possible time.

    During his stay in China Sharif also traveled from Beijing to Shanghai aboard a high speed train and evinced desire for a similar project in Pakistan to fulfill his commitment of providing comfortable transport facility to the people.

    Project Chief Engineer and General Manager High Speed Train Management Zhao Guotang in a detailed briefing to the Prime Minister said China has achieved excellence in designing and manufacturing of high speed trains.

    He said the project costs around $20 million per kilometer, however the cost can be decreased using latest technology.

    Prime Minister Sharif has invited Chairman CSCEC Yi Jun to Pakistan in August to discuss various development projects in Pakistan including the construction of highways and the bullet train.

    The positive aspect of the agreements between the two countries is that all feasibility studies of developmental projects are slated to complete in one year's time and it is hoped that work will start soon thereafter, bringing about a real change in the lives of the people.

    China to help Pakistan expand strategic road links