Ahsan Iqbal announces that Pakistan and China agreed on upgradation of Karachi to Peshawar Railway main line

Islamabad, September 29, 2016 (PPI-OT):Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal has announced that Pakistan and China have agreed on upgradation of Karachi to Peshawar Railway main line (ML1) which would be completed in the next five years with the cost of 8 billion dollars.

He expressed these views while addressing media in Islamabad. Early this week, the minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal and the Minister for Railway Khawaja Saad Rafique visited China where they held meetings with their Chinese counterparts and senior officials of the Chinese government to discuss the progress of the ongoing CPEC projects and the agenda of the upcoming Joint Coordination Committee (JCC). The minister informed the media that the Chinese side expressed satisfaction over the progress of the early harvest projects.

Ahsan Iqbal said, “ML1 is used for 75 percent traffic but infrastructure and equipment on this line has not been improved since long which has resulted in decrease of railway speed from 120 to 60 KM per hour”. He further added that the up-gradation of the ML1will not only improve the existing railway infrastructure and increase the current speed up to 3 times but would also support modern fast movement trains. He said that Quetta-Peshawar and Havilian-Khunjrab would be linked through railway in the next phase to be started after this upgradation.

Ahsan Iqbal told that China would provide 5.5 billion dollars while Asian Development Bank (ADB)would contribute through financing 2.5 billion dollars for up-gradation of Pakistan Railway ML1. The Federal Minister further maintained that Pakistan and China have agreed on convening 6th meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on China Pakistan Economic Corridor in the last week of November 2016. He said that the Joint Working Groups would finalize the CPEC long term plan in consultation with the provinces which would be finally approved in JCC.

Ahsan Iqbal said that some sections are carrying forward a malicious campaign aimed at creating ambiguities about this game changer project. He said that China and Pakistan in the concluding session of the 5th JCC of the CPEC had developed consensus on the principle of “one corridor with multiple passages” for CPEC transport planning, aiming at directly benefiting the socio-economic development of Pakistan, esp. the western and north-western regions, and providing effective connectivity to Gwadar Port. The minister told that the JCC highly appreciated the work that had been done by the experts of both sides on the CPEC transport planning studies, and approved the agreed Monographic Study on Transport Planning of CPEC.

The Minister further stated that work on Western Corridor was progressing in full swing and reaffirmed that the route would be completed by 2018. He informed that that 650 Kilometres long Gwadar-Quetta section of the Western Route would be completed by December 2016. Furthermore, he added that making this route operational Gwadar would get connected with not only to Quetta but also to Afghanistan. With the completion of Western route, people living in the underdeveloped areas would witness new era of development and prosperity.

The minister reinforced commitment of the government that the road projects on western passage are being given top priority. Government of Pakistan is funding the road projects on western route through Federal PSDP, Chinese financing and also through ADB, he added. He said that construction work on D.I. Khan – Hakla 285 Km Motorway fully funded through PSDP has already commenced by completing all the requirements including feasibility, design, land acquisition and approval in the shortest possible time.

He said that the connectivity of Gwadar to the national highway network will be established with completion of N-85 and M-8 highway projects by December, 2016 which also forms part of the western corridor alignment. The M-8 section Gwadar – Turbat – Hoshab (193 Km) has already been completed. M-8 project was approved in March, 1999 and N-85 in 2007 but these road projects remained un-completed till the pace of work on these projects was fast tracked by the present Government from 2013 onwards.

With the completion of these projects, Gwadar Port will be connected to the national highway network. The minister said that reconstruction of 110 km long Khuzdar – Basima road project was approved by the ECNEC on 26-05-2011, however, no physical work was initiated on the project. The Khuzdar-Basima road project has been included as a short term project in CPEC Transport Plan by the present Government and construction work will commence soon by NHA.

The Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal further said that CPEC was one the best and transparent projects where no transaction is directly made to government. He said that 35 billion dollars were to be utilized by the energy sector in the form of private sector investment while rest of the 11 billion US dollars investment has to be made by the Chinese companies in the infrastructure sector under concessional financing mode. The Minister concluded that the early harvest project in the energy sector would be materialized between the years 2018 to 2020.

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