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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Communications feared that the cost of the Chaman to Karachi (N-25) Highway project may surpass the estimated cost of Rs 222 billion due to the hike in construction-related materials.

The parliamentary panel met with Prince Omar Ahmadzai in the chair, here on Tuesday, where a comprehensive briefing was given on the Chaman to Karachi (N-25) Highway project by the officials from the National Highways Authority (NHA).

The chairman committee said that the project had been inaugurated six times but still has not been completed. To the question, asked by the chairman committee the officials said that Rs 6 billion have been allocated for the project given the fact that the estimated cost of the project stands at Rs 222 billion.

The committee feared that due to a hike in construction-related materials the estimated cost may surpass the current amount. As committed by the prime minister, will this project be completed in 1.5 years? asked Senator Danesh Kumar. The chairman NHA while expressing his commitment remarked that his team will try its best to accomplish the said project in due time, adding that the contractors are on the ground and have committed the same.

While sharing details of the N-25 project, the officials informed the committee that the project has five packages and will be completed in phases. The total length is 790 km having sections (i)(Karachi-Uthal-Kararo and Wadh-Khuzdar) 273km, (ii)Khuzdar-Kuchlak (330km) for which clearance is needed having alignment issue, and (iii)Kararo-Wadh and Kuchlak-Chaman 187 km amounting a total cost of Rs222.282 billion.

Given the status of the project, it was told that the cost of PC-1 for section (i) is Rs 73.029 billion and submitted for approval with ECNEC, PC-1 cost of section (ii) is Rs 81.582 billion for which PC-1 is approved by ECNEC and PC-1 cost of Section (iii) is Rs 67.671 billion and submitted to Planning Commission for approval of ECNEC.

At the end of the briefing, the committee showed its intent to call High officials from the Finance Ministry, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and Chief Secretary Balochistan to discuss the project in more detail and ensure its timely completion.

The committee was briefed on the rules and procedures of Right of Way (ROW) under the National Highway Authority Act, 1991 and procedures and policies in this regard.

“The land acquired for construction of a National Highway or any other road assigned to the Authority” is defined as the Right of Way, GM ROW underlined.

He stated that the Right of Way comprises the road, the shoulder and the “Kacha route” beside the shoulder of the road while 220 ft on either side from the centre of the road is the building line that lies beyond the ROW.

After debating the subject, the committee called for a detailed briefing on all the matters related to ROW. Senator Kamil Ali Agha recalled encroachment along the GT Road and called for immediate action against it. He told the Authority to take notice of the matter and revert to the committee afterwards.

The chairman committee hinted at scores of illegal installations of gas stations on the N-25 Highway project approaching Karachi. The chairman while calling for ensuring safety measures along the highway, underscored that these gas stations sometimes are becoming the cause of certain damages and quoted the examples of Commissioner Turbat and Parliamentarian Zehri.

He said that yanking them out is not the way forward but varied safety and security measures need to be taken. After discussing the issue the Chairman committee decided to call chief secretary Balochistan along with the concerned Deputy Commissioner in the next meeting.

The officials from the NHMP also briefed the committee on criteria/policy for seniority and promotion of officers in NHA; indicating cases pending along with the reasons for a delay in each case. The officials informed that different selection committees are in place and are categorized for deciding the promotion of officers and other staff members. Later, the Chairman called for providing a brief list of those officers fulfilling the criteria and have not been promoted yet.

The briefing on the construction of the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway was recessed due to the non-presence of the mover.

Senators Kamil Ali Agha, Danesh Kumar, Abida Muhammad Azeem, ShammimAfridi, Muhammad Akram, and Umer Farooq, attended the meeting. The secretary Ministry of Communications, IG NHMP, DIG NHMP (West Zone), Quetta, and other officials from the Ministry of Communications and the NHMP were also present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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