China to finance three more road projects under CPEC

Beijing has pledged to finance three more road projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), making its total contribution to the corridor-related road projects to Rs1.025 trillion so far.

China will provide Rs107.76 billion as soft loan for the three new projects, National Highway Auth­ority (NHA) spokesman Kashif Zaman told Dawn on Monday. It is already providing Rs917bn for another three road projects.

The three new projects to be financed by China fall on the western route of the corridor. They include a 280-kilomtre road from Raikot to Thakot at a cost of Rs8bn, 210km dual carriageway from Yarik to Zhob (Rs80bn), and a 110km road from Basima to Khuzdar (Rs19.76bn).

An agreement will be signed between the two countries in this regard in China-Pakistan Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting to be held on Dec 29 (Thursday) in Beijing. Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal, NHA chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar and other senior government officials have already left for China.

The spokesman said secretary communications and the NHA chief visited Beijing last month where China agreed to finance the three projects as part of the second phase of the CPEC.

He said the 144km portion of the Raikot-Thakot road has already been improved with Chinese grant while China has now agreed to pay $80 million (over Rs8bn) for the remaining portion. “This is a new alignment which was damaged in the 2010 floods,” the spokesman said.

As for Yarik-Zhob dual carriageway, he said the National Engineering Services of Pakistan has already prepared a feasibility study, and China will provide Rs80bn for it with completion time of 2020. The third project, the Basima-Khuzdar road (N-30), will get Rs19.76bn.

During the upcoming JCC meeting, overall progress of the CPEC would be reviewed. According to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, senior officials from both countries will meet a day before the JCC meeting to give final shape to the new agreements.

Mr Iqbal, the planning minister, would also hold meeting with the Pakistan embassy officials before the Dec 29 meeting.

On the western route of CPEC, a 650km road from Gwadar to Surab has already been completed, the minister has said, adding that it would help uplift the socio-economic lives of people living in the underdeveloped areas of Balochistan.

The road from Burhan to D.I. Khan would be completed by 2018 and a two-lane road from D.I. Khan to Zhob has also been approved, he said.

During the JCC meeting, the Pakistani side will also discuss with China officials the establishment of industrial zones along CPEC’s Gwadar projects.

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