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ISLAMABAD: China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority has revealed that Pakistan Railways’ multi-billion dollars ML-1 project has been delayed due to design fault and lack of capacity of consultant, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

This observation came at a recent meeting of Cabinet Committee on CPEC(CCoCPEC) presided over by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar, when a proposal of National Highways Authority (Ministry of Communications) on realignment of Karakoram Highway KKH from Thakot to Raikot due to construction of dams on River Indus (250 KMs) came under discussion.

The Committee was further informed about the priority accorded in this regard by the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on Transport Infrastructure and the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC). It was proposed that the feasibility study and detailed design may be allowed to be carried out by a joint feasibility study through consulting firms on both sides, i.e., Pakistan and China.

The sources said, Master Planning of the new alignment with technical requirements for a state of the art highway was assigned to the Chinese experts and ground validation along with computation of quantities for the PC-I was given to the local consultants.

In line with procedural requirements, PC-II for realignment of the KKH was approved by the Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP). Moreover, after following the prescribed competitive procurement process, NHA engaged M/s NESPAK to carry out the feasibility study and detailed design out of GoP funds.

Chairman CPEC stated that the Ministry of Communication must ensure that the consultant has made provision for the required technical input/ expertise in the proposal. Citing the example of ML-I project of the Pakistan Railways, it was stated that the project was delayed due to design faults and further due to lack of capacity of the Consultant (ML-1 project) to handle the task.

The Ministry of Communications ensured the CCoCPEC that appropriate technical inputs would be kept to handle the task.

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives/ Chairman CCoCPEC shared concerns about the completion time of the study and directed to reduce the timeframe from 18 months to 12 months. Moreover, the Minister for Economic Affairs, Omar Ayub Khan observed that the route from Thakot to Raikot passes through a rugged terrain; therefore, it should be ensured to be built on the same pattern as of Havelian to Thakot Road.

After detailed discussion, the CCoCPEC approved the proposal of realignment of KKH from Thakot to Raikot due to construction of dams on River Indus (250 KMs) along with the direction to reduce the timeframe of the design consultancy from 18 to 12 months.

The Committee did not approve a proposal about construction of CPEC Business and Industrial Cooperation Tower in Federal Capital on the ground that there was no connection of the project with the CPEC conceptual framework.

The Chairman CCoCPEC observed that it was a real estate development project, which should be dealt on its own merit by some other relevant forum, in case the Board of Investment (BoI) was interested to pursue it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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