Pakistan FWO Completes Building Over Half of CPEC Western Route

“The Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has built roads with 502 kilometers length on the western alignment of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to link Gwadar with other parts of the country. The FWO took up the challenge to extend the benefits of Gwadar port to rest of the country by building roads in rugged mountainous terrain and highly inaccessible areas. The gigantic task was undertaken on the directives of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif."

Frontier Works Organization

Of the three land routes being constructed as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to connect Pakistan's deep sea Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea with western China, the western route is the most challenging.  In addition to the difficult mountainous terrain in KP and Baluchistan provinces, the western route runs through Panjgur and Turbat where there is an active Baloch insurgency believed to be aided by India via Afghanistan. It's being built by Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization.

Deep Sea Port at Gwadar

Frontier Works Organization:

Frontier Works Organization (FWO) is an administrative branch of the Pakistan Army that includes active duty officers and civilian scientists and engineers which has been involved with the construction of bridges, roads, tunnels, airfields and dams in Pakistan, on the orders of the civilian government of Pakistan, according a Reuters report.

Three CPEC Routes: Western, Central and Eastern

Major Milestone:

The completion of construction of 502 km of the 870 km length of the western alignment represents a significant milestone for Pakistan Army and the Frontier Works Organization.  It is expected to become operational by the end of 2016.

CPEC Projects Map

Indian Opposition:

India has made no secret of its strong opposition to the the CPEC project, and it is believed to be making covert efforts to sabotage it. Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “very strongly” raised the issue regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during his visit to Beijing, and called the project “unacceptable”.  Swaraj said Modi was “concerned” about the $46 billion project, adding that the Indian government had summoned a Chinese envoy to raise the issue over the corridor that is to run through Pakistani Kashmir. Needless to say that the Chinese dismissed India’s objections to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Balochistan Insurgency:

In spite of Indian RAW's most determined effort to support the Baloch militants' campaign of murder and terror, the Baloch insurgency has been significantly weakened by the Pakistan Army campaign in the province. In 2013 earthquake that struck Awaran,  a stronghold of Baloch insurgents, Pakistan Army moved in with relief supplies to earthquake victims, and managed to gain access to parts of the very volatile district that were considered inaccessible. More recently, the insurgency has been decimated by in-fighting among various Baloch insurgent factions. The 2014 death of veteran Baloch leader Khair Bux Marri has opened up a rift between his sons Mehran and Hyrbyair — who heads the BLA from self-exile in London — and led to the creation of the UBA with other groups also aligning themselves with one side or the other.

Pak Army Chief's Warning:

Pakistan Army Chief Raheel Sharif has shown a strong personal commitment to making it happen by visiting insurgency-hit areas to support the workers and the troops on difficult construction sites. He was emphatic during a ceremony to celebrate the Chinese Army’s 88th anniversary held at the country’s Islamabad embassy where he said, “I reiterate our resolve that any attempt to obstruct or impede this (CPEC) project will be thwarted at all costs".


Construction work on CPEC is already stimulating economic activity in Pakistan as indicated by rising domestic cement demand in the country.  It was up 8% year over year in 2014-15.  Cement sales are considered a barometer of development activity.  A recent assessment by Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley's emerging markets, has said Pakistan's economy is growing more than twice as fast as emerging markets other than India and China.  In a piece titled "Bucking stagnation elsewhere, the quiet rise of South Asia",  Sharma particularly mentions the Chinese CPEC investment of $46 billion as a positive for Pakistan. "Pakistan’s manufacturing sector is now growing, due to both increasing electric output and the fact that – like Bangladesh – its young population and labour force is expected to continue expanding for at least the next five years", says Sharma.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 27, 2016 at 10:39am

#China-Led #Infrastructure Bank AIIB Starts With $509M in Loans 4 Projects: #Bangladesh #Indonesia, #Pakistan #CPEC

BEIJING — A new Chinese-led international development bank announced its first four loans on Saturday, pledging to lend $509 million for projects to spread electric power in rural Bangladesh, upgrade living conditions in slums in Indonesia, and improve roads in Pakistan and Tajikistan.

At the first of the annual general meetings of the institution, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the bank’s president, Jin Liqun, said the projects were financially sound and environmentally friendly and had been accepted by the people in the project areas.

The projects of the 57-member bank, founded last year as an effort by China to both challenge lending institutions and cooperate with them, are relatively modest.

The road in Tajikistan is just three miles long, but it will help clear traffic congestion on an important trading route near the capital, Dushanbe. A $100 million loan to Pakistan is for 40 miles of highway in Punjab Province that would complete the last section of a national artery, the M-4, the bank said.

Three of the projects are being financed with other institutions — the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development — an approach that allowed the new bank to begin the projects quickly. The bank’s $165 million loan to expand electricity in rural areas of Bangladesh is its only stand-alone project.

By financing projects with long-established institutions, the Beijing-based bank was able to move quickly because work on meeting environmental standards and procurement policies had been completed, staff members at the bank said.

Although the new bank was China’s idea, it is intended to operate as an international bank dedicated to improving the basic structures and facilities needed to stimulate development across Asia, Mr. Jin said at a news conference on Saturday. Unlike the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank places less emphasis on the reduction of poverty, he said.

The bank “was born with the birthmark of China, but its upbringing is international,” Mr. Jin said. Referring to the three other institutions that will finance the projects, he said, “We can work wonderfully together.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 21, 2016 at 8:55am

#China urges #Pakistan to let #Pak army, with its decades of infrastructure dev experience, lead #CPEC work 

Frustrated with the slow progress on a sprawling, $46bn infrastructure project stretching from China to south Asia, Beijing is seeking to give Pakistan’s army a lead role.

Its desire to enlist Pakistan’s military is a sign of the challenges facing a crucial plank of President Xi Jinping’s signature One Road One Belt initiative. It was designed to increase China’s influence along the Silk Road and help the country export some of its excess industrial capacity.

Mr Xi made Pakistan an early stop on that road last year with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $46bn bundle of road, railway, electricity, oil and gas projects that marked the largest foreign investment in the nuclear-armed south Asian state.

But progress has stalled as the two sides work out how to turn the proposals into concrete projects, said Victor Gao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, with some blaming Pakistan’s competing ministries.

“On the Pakistan side there is uncertainty about which entity wants to take leadership or ownership of the corridor projects,” he said. “There is a big debate internally [in Pakistan] over whether the government should take ownership or the military should take ownership. This is what is holding the whole thing up.”

The Pakistan military, which has detachments of civil, mechanical and electrical engineers, has had decades of experience with large infrastructure projects and analysts say the army is well placed to supervise the corridor.

But some politicians warn that military involvement will expand the army’s footprint on civilian matters and give the armed forces an even greater say in policymaking.

Security along the route, which traverses many volatile regions, is also a factor. “Because this project runs from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar, the CPEC’s route is very long and high-risk,” said Huang Rihan at the Center for China and Globalisation.

A 15,000-strong army-led security force has already been deployed to protect Chinese personnel assigned to the project.

Ultimately the new Silk Road will connect China’s western region, including the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang province, to the Chinese-funded Pakistani port city of Gwadar and significantly reduce the travel time between China and the Middle East.

“Pakistani politicians have squabbled over the route for the CPEC and this may have made people nervous in Beijing,” said a Pakistan government official. “Pakistan is a noisy place politically while the Chinese are not used to harsh disagreements, especially over such a vital project.”

Others attributed the hold-up to the long-term nature of the CPEC. “These projects will take many years to be completed, beyond the tenure of any one government,” said a foreign ministry official in Islamabad. “China wants to make certain that these projects will be completed as per plan”.

China is focused on securing a route to the Indian Ocean that would reduce dependence on the choke point of the Strait of Malacca between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Zaffar Hilaly, a former senior Pakistani diplomat and now commentator on national and security affairs, said: “The Chinese consider the Pakistan army a central player [for the country]. They see the army’s involvement with this project as a guarantee of its success.”

Pakistan’s armed forces have established close ties with Beijing as primary customers of China’s defence hardware, raising concerns in Delhi and Washington over a Sino-Pakistani military axis.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 29, 2016 at 4:56pm

CPEC western route projects to be completed by December

Work on the projects of western route of Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) is continuing rapidly and will be completed by December 2016, official sources said. CPEC will benefit all the provinces especially Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
According to data released by Planning Commission of Pakistan, 335 km long Khunjerab to Raikot road is complete while the feasibility study of 270 km Raikot to Thakot road is complete. Work is continuing on Burhan-Havelian expressway, 280km long Burhan-Dera Ismail Khan road, 124km DI Khan-Mughalkot road, 81 km Zhob-Mughalkot road, 454km Khushab-Saryab road and 193 km Khushab-Gwadar road.
The federal government has given considerable importance to the project and made substantial allocations for it in this year’s financial budget. CPEC project includes new power stations and special industrial zones to spur regional trade.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 6, 2016 at 7:57am

Building 1000km long CPEC honour for FWO: General Raheel Sharif

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has on Monday said that building 1000 kilometer long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was an honour for Frontier Works Organisation (FWO). He said that FWO had become a strategic organisation after years of hard work, reported Dunya News.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department, General Raheel Sharif attended FWO’s Golden Jubilee ceremony, where he praised FWO for its extensive construction experience and completion of massive projects.

Army chief said that FWO had completed projects like Karakoram Highway, Central Corridor linking Afghanistan with Waziristan, Coastal Highway and several hydel projects. He congratulated FWO over the completion of such extraordinary projects.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 12, 2016 at 9:52pm

FWO - Trendsetter in BOT

In the modern concept of infrastructure development, Public Private Partnership (PPP) has attained importance and popularity. Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), is a project financing and operating model or structure and is a form of PPP wherein a private entity receives a concession from the private or public sector to finance, design, construct, and operate a facility stated in the concession contract which varies from 20 to 30 years. The facility may be a power plant, airport, toll road, tunnel, water treatment plant or any other public utility project. The concession period is determined primarily by the length of time needed for the facility's revenue stream to pay off the company's debt and provide a reasonable rate of return for its effort and risk. This enables the project proponent to recover its investment, and project operating and maintenance expenses. After completion of the concession period, ownership is transferred back to the granting entity which may be federal, provincial or local government or its department. This profit sharing principle is the key aspect differentiating the BOT approach from the outsourcing arrangements commonly undertaken in the country. BOT has found its application in recent years primarily in the area of infrastructure privatization especially in the developing countries.

BOT utilizes the private sector financing to provide new sources of capital, which reduces public borrowing and direct spending, facilitating the governments to develop projects that would otherwise compete for scarce sovereign resources.

Public-Private Partnership - A

Necessity for Pakistan. 

In Pakistan, 95 percent of the total goods traffic and 90 percent of passenger traffic utilize roads, whereas only 5% goods and 8% passengers use Railway for their transportation. Only 2% passengers move by air. In view of such a situation, road network bears the maximum traffic load in the country. Total Asset of road infrastructure is about 45,940 Lane Kms. Its Routine Maintenance cost is calculated at Rs.5 Billion/annum, whereas it's Periodic Maintenance Cost is about Rs. 30 Billion/annum. Its current revenue collection however amounts to only about Rs. 15 Billion/annum whereas its Operational Cost is about Rs. 7 Billion/ annum. Thus there is a shortfall of Rs. 27 Billion/ annum. As evident, even maintenance of the existing infrastructure is not possible from within the revenues generated out of this infrastructure. To meet the ambitious goals of completing and maintaining the large motorway network in the country as planned by Government of Pakistan, Public-Private Partnership is, therefore an inescapable necessity. In view of the meager budgetary resources and revenue generation National Highway Authority has floated various BOT schemes in this context.

FWO - Pioneer of BOT in Pakistan 

FWO, being one of the largest construction organization having internationally competitive financial, manpower and machinery assets, readily accepted the challenge and offered to undertake first ever BOT projects. Various completed and ongoing BOT projects being implemented by FWO are as under:

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 14, 2016 at 10:18am

#Pakistan PM #NawazSharif inaugurates Surab – Hoshab N-85 highway a key part of #CPEC western route in #Balochistan …

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Wednesday (today) said that the development of Balochistan means a new Pakistan is in the making.

“Building up of a new Balochistan means that a new Pakistan is being built,” the premier said while addressing a gathering in Turbat in connection with the inauguration of Sorab-Hoshab Highway N-85 on Wednesday.

The 448 km long Sorab-Hoshab highway forms an important link on the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and has been built at an estimated cost of Rs22 billion.

“I have visited Balochistan the most number of times during my current tenure as prime minister and it has always been to inaugurate a project…this road will bring prosperity to the area,” Nawaz added.

“Travelling from Quetta to Gwadar used to take two days but now with the help of this road one can leave Quetta at sunrise and reach Gwadar by noon,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister said the road was proof that the government had brought progress back to the region.

“A new road brings new opportunities and gives new life to an area… you’ll see the progress in your area,” Prime Minister Nawaz said, adding that he did not want “to repeat the tale of how Balochistan was neglected, but now we will change the face of Balochistan, and Pakistan.”

“This road will connect Balochistan to the National Highway, to the rest of the country and to Afghanistan. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan will also benefit from it,” the premier said.

Criticising previous regimes, the prime minister said “those before us had this opportunity, but they wasted it…this work can only be done by someone with a vision. We have this vision…not only are we making roads…these roads are bringing children closer to schools and bringing employment and livelihood to the poor”.

Meanwhile, in an apparent reference to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, Nawaz said some people think they can assume power by creating an uncertainty in the country. The nation is able to determine the ones working for the development of the country as well as those playing with their emotions, he remarked.

Development, the premier reiterated, is the only way to take this country forward and the incumbent government has made it clear that the only way to rule is through service to the masses.

“Pakistan has to develop both in terms of material and spirit as this country has a history of ethical traditions and respect for each other,” Nawaz said before adding, “Masses will decide Pakistan’s fate in 2018 which is going to be a better year for the country.”

The project contractor – Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has completed 16 Bridges,1502 Culverts at N-85.

The project links Gwadar Port with National Highway network (N-25) near Surab/Quetta.

The road would provide the shortest link to Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries with Gwadar Port. With the completion of this project, the vital North-South road connectivity has also been completed. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 5, 2017 at 10:24am

FWO installs CCTV cameras at Khi-Hyd M-9 Motorway

Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) has installed CCTV cameras at 136 KM Khi-Hyd M-9 Motorway for proper monitoring of traffic flow.

This was said by Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) CORE project M-9 Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway Chief Operating Officer Brigadier Tahir Siddiqui during a press conference in Nooriabad.

The organisation is the pioneer in BOT services—a service introduced by FWO with a purpose to reduce the burden on the public sector for development of large size infrastructural projects, said Tahir Siddiqui.

The Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M 9) is one of the BOT project achieved through competitive bidding process, added the project’s chief operating officer.

On the occasion, COO GS Col Mansoor Ahsen, M-9 Project Director Col Rashid, BOT Director Daud Suleman and PRO Abdullah Hafeez –the representatives of FWO– also briefed media during the visit at a Nooriabad location.

Bgdr Tahir said that the NHA has given rights of its development and subsequent operation and regulator maintenance for 25 years under a Concession Agreement to FWO-owned private limited company ‘SCORE’, which is lawfully registered in SECP observing all corporate governance regulations.

The overall construction cost of the project is Rs 37billion with details of its financing arrangement, underlying the fact that FWO injects 30% as equity share, while 70% is loaned from a consortium of local banks, which will be returned through toll revenue, This needs to be understood that the toll being collected during construction is being utilised for the construction and partially for debt servicing only, he said.

For first 10 years major chunk of toll will be used for debt repayment, and remaining will be used for operation, maintenance and management cost. After debt servicing (10 years) sizeable share will be remitted to NHA which will be utilised for other infrastructural projects, he added.

The project constitutes of an overall length of 136km out of which 120Km will be a Motorway Section and 16km will be urbanised portion. There will be eight new interchanges and latest Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) will also be provided. The project is not only limited to construction but includes operations and routine maintenance for 25 Years (till 2040) and 2 x Periodic/major maintenance, he said.

Tahir said that the project commenced in October 2015 with the construction time of 30 months (ie till April 2018). However, the FWO targets to construct the project by August 2017.The sole purpose of expediting the early completion is to reduce inconvenience to commuters during the construction phase

He further told that recently a localised failure has been observed near Loni-kot temporary toll plaza with an approximate length of 1 Lane km (0.5% of project length). These kinds of road failures are termed in engineering as ‘Rutting’ and are caused due to heavy/overloaded but slow traffic (resulting in exponential impact road). Required tests have been carried out to investigate the cause of this failure. As per the requirement, rectification of patch has already been completed.

No extra finances will be claimed from NHA or any other government institute for carrying out these rectification works, he added.

The FWO officials said that over 80,000 different types of trees of neem (Azadirachtaindica), palm (Arecaceae) and corn corpus have been planted alongside the road. Plantation work is carried out as per the elaborated horticulture plan of the M9 Project.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 14, 2017 at 5:41pm

Work on all portions of CPEC Western Route underway

The construction and land acquisition work on all portions of the Western Route of China Pakistan Economic Corridor is under way and the major work on the Route is expected to be completed by next year.
The shortest of all CPEC routes is Western Alignment of the CPEC which is 2,463 km length and starts from Khunjrab, passing through Burhan (Hakla), DI Khan (Yarik), Zhob, Quetta,Surab and Hoshab and terminates at Gwadar.
An official of Planning Commission told APP that the Western Routes’ 615 Kilometer Khunjrab Raikot section has already been completed while Havelian Abotabad Manshehra (40 km) section will be completed by May, 2018.
He said work on construction of all five sections of Hakla D.I.Khan Expressway had begun.
This project is an important part of Western Route of CPEC and the 285 km long Motorway will be completed in two years at a cost of more than Rs 142 billion.
He said that the project alignment started at Hakla,near Tarnol interchange on M 1 and passes through Fateh Jhang,Mianwali,Kundal and ended at Yarak at Indus Highway (N 55).
He said that the alignment of motorway passed through developing areas and its construction would generate new employment opportunities.
Availability of high speed transportation will pave way for improvement of health and education sectors as well, and local produces will easily be taken to the big markets.
He said that ground breaking of the up gradation of Zhob Mughalkot section was performed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2015.
He said that rehabilitation of D.I.Khan Mughalkot section of N 50 would be completed by 2018. Moreover he said that dualization of 531 km D.I.Khan to Kuchlak section of N 50 would be operational by 2020.
The objective of the CPEC was to promote trade ties with neighboring countries Central Asian States and South Asian countries, which would ultimately make Pakistan a trade hub in this whole region, he said.
Similarly, the Sorab Hoshab highway forms an important link on the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and has been completed at an estimated cost of Rs 22 billion.
The highway is 449 kilometers long and links the Gwadar port to the north.
The official said that with the completion of the highway, the distance time from Gwadar to Quetta had been reduced from 48 hours to only 10 hours.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 1, 2018 at 10:13am

CPEC Western route to be completed by end of this year
By Sehrish WasifPublished: February 12, 2018

The western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is going to be completed by the end of this year along with other 11 mega projects which were initiated in 2015-16.

The completion of those projects will reduce travelling time and boost economic activities.

“Hakla-DI Khan having the length 285km with a cost of Rs122 billion and 81km Zhob-Mughalkot costing Rs8.8billion funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will be completed by December 2018,” a senior National Highway Authority (NHA) official told The Express Tribune.

“The completion of these two projects will connect the port city of Gwadar with Quetta by Khuzdar,” he said and added, “With it the western route will become completely functional.”

According to the NHA the under-construction projects – the Hakla to Dera Ismail Khan motorway — is an important part of the western route of CPEC, and will reduce the travel time from Islamabad to DI Khan from five hours to just two-and-a-half hours.

It will greatly help the movement to the country’s southern cities such as Quetta and Gwadar.

Meanwhile, another important project — Khuzdar- Ratodero (151 km) that has been completed at a cost of Rs8.8 billion is all set to be inaugurated this year in April.

This project though is not part of CPEC.

“The significance of this project is that it will provide the much-needed connectivity between Balochistan and Sindh and also facilitate CPEC traffic originating from the Gwadar Port,” said the NHA official.

Other projects include the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) where 95% work has already been completed and will see the finish line in March.

The 136km, the six-lane motorway with the two-lane service road on either side, is being built on the BOT basis at a cost of Rs44 billion.

Being the country’s busiest section with over 30,000 daily traffic count, this motorway will be immensely helpful in catering to the commercial traffic originating from the Karachi Port and the Port Qasim.

Following the recent inauguration of the Lyari Expressway, M-9 will offer an added benefit to commuters to reach their destinations without facing the city congestions.

Gojra-Shorkot (62km) and Shorkot-Khanewal (65km) sections of M-4 are scheduled to complete by August with a cost of Rs17 billion and Rs22 billion, respectively.

Financed jointly by the Asian Development Bank and Government of Pakistan, their completion will reduce travel time from the federal capital to Multan to just 5 hours.

Lahore-Abdulhakim Motorway (230 km) is another important project that is expected to complete by May. Built at a cost of Rs 148 billion, the six-lane motorway will provide a swift and easy route between Lahore and Multan.

CPEC toll income — myth and reality

One of the important links of CPEC and the country’s longest planned motorway, Multan-Sukkur (M-5) is though scheduled to complete in 2019.

Its two sections — Multan to Shujaabad and Pano Aqil to Ghotki — will be completed this year. The 392km-long motorway is being financed by China at a cost of Rs294 billion.

Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (89 km) will be completed on the BOT mode by December at a cost of Rs44 billion. It will link the industrial city of Sialkot with the rest of the country, leading to swift movement of industrial products.

Islamabad Metro Bus (26.5km), another challenging project, is under execution and will be completed by the end of April. The project will link the traffic from the twin cities with the New Islamabad International Airport (NIIA).

Hazara Motorway (E-35) from Burhan to Shah Maqsood Interchange (47km) is already completed and open to traffic. The 15km addition is scheduled to complete by May, thus reducing the distance between Islamabad and Abbottabad to one-and-a-half hours.

The widening and improvement of GT Road section from Thokar Niaz Baig to Hudria Drain (10km) is underway and will be completed this year.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 1, 2018 at 7:51pm

A drive on the newly-constructed highway connecting the port city to Ratodero reveals the trials and tribulations of building infrastructure in conflict-ridden areas

There is great buzz about the M-8 project in Balochistan — locals who use the road on a daily basis say that it has greatly reduced the time needed to travel from Gwadar to Turbat, and indeed, reduced the time for produce and supplies to be transported between cities.

And yet, great things in Balochistan tend to arrive in small, sometimes troubling packages.

A drive on the newly-constructed highway connecting the port city to Ratodero reveals the trials and tribulations of building infrastructure in conflict-ridden areas

Also known as the Gwadar-Ratodero Motorway, the M-8 falls under the purview of the National Highway Authority (NHA). In theory, it is an 893-kilometre-long “motorway” that is supposed to facilitate the movement of people and goods to and from the port city of Gwadar.

Explore: Footprints: Road trip Balochistan

The western end of this motorway is actually a junction known as the Karwat ‘zero point’, some 50 kilometres away from Gwadar. From Karwat, the road snakes through rugged terrain, first to Turbat, then to Hoshab and onwards to Khuzdar.

From Khuzdar, the highway takes a turn towards Sindh, to the town of Ratodero — the “eastern end” of the M-8. Ratodero has gained prominence in recent times for being the lynchpin of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The town is a junction where the CPEC’s western, central and eastern road routes all converge. And it is from here that trade between provinces will originate.

The M-8, therefore, is what ties the CPEC plan all together.

Late last year, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), who were contracted by the NHA to build the motorway, completed construction of a 200-kilometre-long strip between Gwadar and Hoshab. And although the project is yet to be formally handed over to the NHA, the road is already in use.


A rocky beginning
Twist in the tale: the M-8 wasn’t a CPEC-specific project to begin with.

The M-8 project is also known as the Gwadar-Ratodero Motorway. The project is divided into two sections; the first from Gwadar to Khuzdar, and the second from Khuzdar to Ratodero. Work on the 200-kilometre-long Gwadar to Hoshab segment began back in 2004 under the regime of General Pervez Musharraf. This track was supposed to have been completed in 2006. It has taken 13 long years for construction to conclude.

“The M-8’s first contractor was a Chinese company named Xinjiang Beixin Road & Bridge Group Co. Ltd," explains Muhammad Musa, NHA’s project director in Kech District. “But they left the project when three Chinese engineers were killed in a car bomb blast in Gwadar during the first week of May, 2004.”

The Chinese firm had managed to complete 30 kilometres of the project, from Naleint to Talaar, during their short stint. The construction contract was then awarded to D. Baloch, but for some reason (possibly security-related), they, too, were unable to complete the work.

“The M-8 has gone through many contractors but nobody was able to work on it properly,” says Musa, “until the project was awarded to the FWO in June 2014.”

The FWO was responsible for completing all aspects of construction by October 31, 2017.

But the construction process was marred by violence ever since work started. In July 2015, for example, a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) disclosed that six military personnel and 10 civilian employees of FWO were martyred and 29 severely injured in 136 security-related incidents. Similarly, on May 19, 2017, at least three labourers were gunned down in the Hoshab Bazaar. Despite the violence, work carried on and the highway finally saw the light of day late last year.


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