Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Balochistan’s Zhob on Wednesday and laid the foundation stones of two key projects: upgradation of the Zhob-Mughal Kot section of the Dera Ismail Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway (N-50) and the Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road section of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qilla Saifullah Highway (N-70).
The Zhob-Mughal Kot Section is part of the western route of the CPEC which starts from Burhan on the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway (M-1), and after moving through DI Khan, Zhob, Quetta, Surab and Hoshab, ends at Gwadar. The Zhob-Mughal Kot section is 81 kilometres (km) long and its upgradation will cost Rs9 billion, and is expected to be completed by 2018. The Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud section is 128km long and will cost around Rs 8bn.
Brushing aside the apprehensions regarding the snails pace work on the projects under CPEC, Prime Minister has inaugurated the western route of the mega project.
Couple of months back, elected representatives from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were lamenting the federal government for slow paced progress of the project in their provinces. But we should all keep in mind that CPEC is a project that has to be built in phases. Making Punjab focus of the initial phase makes sense because eastern route of the project already had the skeleton of the infrastructure which would be easy to update under CPEC development. Western route of the project is based on usually underdeveloped parts of the country and construction would eventually take more time. This did not mean that the western route was being ignored, it will be built in the next phases of the project.
Government in the center though needs to communicate properly with other provinces in order to remove their reservations regarding the development work being done under CPEC.
Federal government needs to take in confidence other provinces regarding development work under CPEC.