PESHAWAR: The Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pervez Khattak, recently performed the ground-breaking ceremony of Swat Motorway Project at Chakdara. The building of an 81 kilometres long four-lane expressway under the scheme in this remote area is expected to become a transformative step for the province, generating tremendous benefits for its people and contributing towards development of the region.
To be later expanded into a six-lane motorway, the expressway is a mega project by the provincial government under the Public Private Partnership Act 2014 and will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 38 billion in 18 months.
The expressway will connect Karnal Sher Khan Interchange on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway (M1) with Chakdara, tunnelling its way through the mountains at Palai and Ala Dhand areas. Two kilometres of the road fall in Nowshera, 18 in Swabi, 40 in Mardan and 21 in Malakand. The total width of the motorway project is 80 metres.
According to officials of the Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority (PKHA) the length of the tunnels has been estimated at about two kilometres. With the completion of the Swat Motorway, the journey from Karnal Sher Khan Interchange in Swabi to Chakdara will take only 45 minutes. According to present estimates, more than 18,000 vehicles will be able to use this route on daily basis generating direct and indirect revenue.
Addressing people at the ground-breaking ceremony, Pervez Khattak said that plans for the construction of Peshawar Metro Bus had also been approved, which would be completed at an estimated cost of Rs. 32 billion. Additionally, the government has also signed an MOU with a Chinese-based company for construction of Metro train in the province, which will connect Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda and Nowshera, he informed them, adding that the train service will be used by more than 50,000 people daily.
A total of six interchanges will be constructed on the expressway at Dhobian, Ismaila, Bakshalay, Katlang, Palai and Chakdara. These will provide easy access to more than 40 villages, generating numerous business opportunities for locals.
Some of the major areas to benefit directly from the expressway include Nandrak, Mughalkai, Daulat, Dhobian, Ismaila, Ghariyala, Shahbaz Garhi, Bakshalay, Shakar Tangai, Shamozai, Palai, Alladhand, Zulam Kot and Chakdara. The new route will also benefit commuters from Chitral, Dir, Kohistan and Shangla.
Kamal Khan, a resident of Swabi district, told Independent Project Reporting (IPR) that he would now be able to visit tourist spots in the area more frequently. “I am very happy with the government’s initiative. I am a trader supplying goods to Swat and Malakand districts. The expressway will boost my business by providing easy access to these areas. It will also open up Swat’s scenic spots to local and foreign tourists.”
By opening up the area to tourism, the new route will generate indirect revenue for the province and business opportunities for thousands of people.
The chief minister also divulged that 10,000 acres of land had been acquired by the provincial government for an industrial estate near the expressway, which would help develop the area and bring job opportunities and prosperity to both locals and people from the region. Another 80,000 acres of land has been acquired to develop a modern city in the area.
The motorway project has been handed over to the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) scheme under the Public Private Partnership Act of 2014. Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony, FWO Director General, Major General Muhammad Afzal vowed to complete the project in 15 months’ time instead of the scheduled 18 months.