ISLAMABAD: Amid reports of lack of traffic on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway – what some see as a “politically motivated project” – the government has decided to link it with the Narowal city at a cost of Rs20 billion.
Sources told the scribe that the Lahore to Sialkot project is becoming a nightmare for incumbent government due to a shortage of traffic as officials of National Highway Authority (NHA) have suggested government to link the nearby cities to this project.
The Sialkot-Lahore motorway was seen as a project likely to benefit the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government ahead of elections in which the concerned ministries had evidently prepared the PC-1 in haste, without calculating the benefits of projects.
Officials further informed that the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had given the approval of linking Narowal city to this project.
Under the directives of the prime minister, NHA intends to undertake the feasibility study of the constructions of a 4-lane highway, a semi green field project connecting Lahore-Sialkot Motorway with Narang Mandi to Badoomalhi and finally to Narowal, on Narowal- Jassar road. The available documents suggest that the total length of the project will be 73 km including 10.30 km eastern bypass for Narowal.
The Lahore- Sialkot Motorway aims at providing an improved route to be utilised by the travellers belonging to Sheikhupura and Narowal districts.
NHA officials told that PM on May 5, 2018, while inaugurating the construction of Narowal-Baddo Malhi Road that the work will be completed in next 18 months, the documents indicate.
Officials further told that they are optimistic to reopen the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in December 2018 as work is going on.
The government had started the work on the insistence of former foreign Minister Khawaja Asif as he thinks that he can win the election by starting this kind of projects.
It is worth mentioning here that government had released the money for the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway from the special fund of PM, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) after the refusal of Finance Ministry to release the funds.
Finance Ministry had a point of view that they do not have enough money for this project.