—Senator Kauda Babar Baloch says there is only one rule in Balochistan, ‘either FWO will get the contract, or there will be trouble in that area’
ISLAMABAD: As the National Highway Authority (NHA) has failed to complete various important projects in Balochistan, members of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Planning and Development have complained that only those projects that were awarded to the Frontiers Works Organisation (FWO) get priority in execution/completion.
Showing his concerns about the delay in the completion of major highways in Balochistan, Senator Kauda Babar Baloch said, “There is only one rule, either FWO will get the contract, or there will be trouble in that area.”
During the committee meeting, the Senate body decried the delay of more than ten years in the completion of highways and motorways in Balochistan, lamenting that the NHA was not taking action against those responsible for the delays.
While various reasons were presented by the NHA officials to the committee, the members rejected the NHA’s version of the story and said that there was no justification for delaying the important projects.
NHA Chairman Jawad Malik said that the 51km section (package III) of M-8 (Ratedero – Khuzdar motorway) was scheduled to be completed in 2006 but its new completion date was December 2019, as work was being carried out at the remaining 5km section.
Committee chairman Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani took serious notice of the NHA chief’s statement that only five-kilometre work was remaining on the 250km long M-8 motorway.
“You can tell this to our Senators coming from other areas but I travel in these areas as I belong to that part of the country – can we please have a briefing over which five kilometres have not been completed?” the chairman inquired.
Senator Hidayatullah, who belongs to the tribal areas, also pointed out that the package III of 51km remained completed. “How can you say only five-km work remains?”
The committee was informed that the reasons for the delay were three floods and prolonged law and order in the province.
Senator Kauda Babar said, “Originally, the M-8 was to link Gwadar with the main CPEC route but the mainstream Balochistan has been ignored in the road networks. “Why did you link M-8 with Bela, which is already connected to the existing network?” he asked.
On this, the officials said that the idea was to continue the connectivity process, even if there were delays on other routes.
Meanwhile, the NHA officials stated that the authority has undertaken an anti-encroachment operation from Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (EME) College to Tarnol on Peshawar Road (N-5), Islamabad.
“All the encroachments falling on the Right of Way (ROW) along the national highway are being cleared and to-date a number of shops, bus stands and land, encroached by the filling stations, have been vacated.”
The NHA has initiated land measurements of dubious locations and notices have been issued encroachers to clear the land, it was informed to the Senate body.
The anti-encroachment drive has been launched in cooperation with Capital Development Authority and the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration, the officials added.
Moreover, the committee considered 27 projects under the head of ‘Knowledge Economy’ and lauded the efforts for attention on robotics, IT and software development.