Balochistan projects: Work on stalled highway projects to resume

Islamabad: Dismissal of a case by the Islamabad Court (IHC), work on two crucial highway projects in Balochistan worth Rs17 billion — part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — is likely to resume after months-long break.

The two projects are being financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and set to complete in two years.

Talking to The Express Tribune, spokesman for the National Highway Authority (NHA) Kashif Zaman said that work on the two major projects, including the upgradation of Zhob-Mughal Kot Section (N-50) and Qila Saifullah-Waigam Rud Section (N-70), would resume soon.

The Zhob-Mughal Kot Section — part of the Western Route of CPEC — is 81-kilometer-long and its upgradation will cost Rs9 billion while the Qila Saifullah-Waigam Rud Section is 128-kilometer-long and will cost nearly Rs8 billion.

He said that the prime minister had laid the foundation stone of these two projects on December 30 last year.

Later, the NHA was accused of awarding the projects’ contracts to the “second lowest bidder and not to the lowest bidder”, he said, adding that a writ petition was filed in the IHC in this regard.

According to documents obtained by The Express Tribune, the writ petition was filed by two companies, Maqbool Associates (Pvt) Limited and Zarghoon Enterprises (Pvt) Limited, against the federation of Pakistan, NHA, General Manager (P&CA) and Umer Jan and CO of Xuchang Guangli Highway Enng Construction Limited (JV).

However on May 12 this year, the IHC dismissed the case declaring the petition without merit.

“Because of baseless allegations, both mega projects suffered a lot but all-out efforts will be made to overcome the five-month delay and complete both projects in scheduled time period,” said Zaman.