The toll rates at Islamabad-Peshawar and Islamabad-Lahore motorways would see three to four times increase in the coming years compared to the rates that were in effect over 15 to 20 years ago while the National Highway Authority (NHA) needs Rs 92 billion annually for the maintenance and renovation of highways, it transpired during the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms on Tuesday.
Briefing the committee, Chairman NHA Sikander Qayyum said that toll rates have been "increased proportionately in accordance with the terms of contract and the average number of vehicles that use the motorway."
He said the toll rates of M-1 (Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway) would go up from Rs 80 to Rs 240 for cars, Rs 100 to Rs 400 for wagons, Rs140 to Rs 550 for minibus and Rs 210 to 790 for buses (from the year 2005 to 2021).
The toll rates for M-2 (Islamabad-Lahore) Motorway would go up from Rs 200 to Rs 750 for cars, Rs 300 to Rs 1,250 for wagons, Rs 300 to Rs 1,760 for minibus and Rs 450 to Rs 2,510 for buses (from the year 1997 to 2020.)
On the pending Metro Bus Project to and from Peshawar Morr-New International Islamabad Airport, he said two packages of the project of are complete and work on the remaining two is in progress. Tentatively, the project will be completed by March 2020, the chairman NHA said.
The committee expressed strong concerns regarding Right Bank of River Indus (RBOD)-II Mega Project (extension of RBOD from Sehwan to sea at Gharo). "This is a totally misconceived project and there are problems at every stage," Chairman Committee Agha Shahzaib Durrani from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said. "What's the rationale of involving 200 contractors for a 270 kilometres alignment?" he asked.
A senior official of Sindh Irrigation Department gave briefing on the project, change in alignment and causes of delays. For this project Rs 54.99 billion are to be paid by federal government and Rs 7 billion by Sindh government. The project was said to have physical progress of 73 per cent and financial progress of 64 per cent.
The government should get rid of all contractors who haven't done required work or have delayed it and should make payment to those contractors who have completed their work on ground," Durrani said.
Secretary Planning Jawwad Rafique Malik briefed the committee regarding amendments in the Land Acquisition Act. "Punjab will take the lead and propose an amendment which will then be followed by federal and other provincial governments for transparent and utility based land acquisition," he said.
The committee took suggestions from Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) on devising a mechanism for "effective and efficient preparation of projects at all stages and providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Planning on project evaluation so as to avoid time delays and cost overrun."
The committee recommended to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, the PEC and all other relevant stakeholders to sit together and formulate a work plan.