Four road projects together worth more than $3.3bn have been added to the vast suite of infrastructure schemes coming under the $62bn China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC).
According to local newspaper the Express Tribune, the decision was agreed at the fifth meeting of the CPEC transport working group, held in Karachi on Saturday, 23 September.
A $200m, 290km road will link two of Pakistan’s main east-west highways: the N40 at Nok Kundi and Panjgur on the N-85. Now it can take travellers 10 hours to drive between the two towns on single-lane roads.
Another project will run 200km from Mirpur, through Muzaffarabad to Mansehra, improving communication through the mountains north of Islamabad. This is the most expensive of the projects, with an estimated cost of $2.5bn.
A 354km, $430m road in the north will connect Gilgit to Chitral (pictured) in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district near the border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistan Corridor
Meanwhile, the first section of the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit corridor project, also in northern Pakistan, will be constructed by Maqbool Construction of Karachi, Calson and China Engineering.
Most of the funding is coming from Chinese government, which views the CPEC as one of the most important areas in its One Belt, One Road programme. The estimated total investment value of CPEC rose this year from $55bn to $62bn.
Some investment is also being advanced by the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the French Development Agency. The ADB will provide a loan worth $335m, and the AIB and AFD will provide $75m each.
Detailed design for the roads will be completed by November; land acquisition has already begun.
Work on CPEC road projects so far have proved to be among the most dangerous places to work on the planet. According to a report published in GCR in September last year, some 44 workers have been killed in attacks by Pakistan militants.
Top image: The landscape around Chitral (Akmain/Wikimedia Commons)