ISLAMABAD: The government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed on Thursday a loan agreement of $178 million for building the Gojra-Shorkot section of national motorway M-4 which includes a grant of $90.77m to be provided by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The government will invest counterpart share of $46m in the project. The Faisalabad to Gojra section of the M-4 has recently been completed with funding from the ADB and is now open to traffic.
The ADB and the DFID have joined hands to assist Pakistan in improving the country’s vital north-south road network for promotion of economic growth, job creation and regional connectivity. The M-4 motorway is part of the investments to upgrade and decongest the country’s overburdened transport infrastructure.
The four-lane motorway will boost trade and travel while reducing transportation cost and time from the textile producing hub Faisalabad to Multan which is a major trade centre in southern Punjab, the ADB says.
The M-4 motorway will provide a shorter and direct connection between central Punjab and port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. The M-4 motorway will open up new opportunities for the residents of Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Shorkot by providing faster access to bigger markets.
The M-4 motorway will also extend the already completed M-1, M-2 and M-3 motorways southwards and shorten the distance between Multan and twin cities of Islamabad-Rawalpindi in the north.
Economic Affairs Division Secretary Muhammad Saleem Sethi and ADB Country Director Werner E. Liepach signed the loan agreement in the presence of Group Head of DFID in Pakistan, Louise Walker, and Member Engineering Coordination, Arshad Mahmood Chaudhry.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has hailed signing of the agreement saying that it would further strengthen Pakistan-ADB cooperation for socio-economic development. He also appreciated continued support from the DFID in this regard.
Mr Sethi thanked the ADB and the DIFD for providing support to Pakistan, particularly for promoting efficiency in traffic operations along the National Transport Corridor.
“The project demonstrates the ADB and the DFID’s commitment towards the wellbeing of the people of Pakistan by assisting the government in promoting equitable growth and livelihood opportunities through investment in the vital transport infrastructure,” Werner E. Liepach said.
“Once complete, the project will not only facilitate faster and more efficient transportation of goods and people across Pakistan’s key business centres, it will also enable the National Highway Authority to build and maintain quality roads and ensure better road safety”.
The DFID’s acting Head of Office, Judith Herbertson said, “The UK’s partnership with the ADB and the government of Pakistan will help improve road safety and enhance local and regional trade.”
An efficient network of highways is crucial to avoiding transport bottlenecks, boosting competitiveness and attracting private sector investment which in turn is essential for growth and sustainable development.
The M-4 is also a step towards positioning Pakistan to act as a transit artery for goods moving between the port city of Karachi in the south to Torkham on the northern border with Afghanistan via the country’s major business and population centres.
The 1,800km route will also eventually link ports with the land-locked regions of Central Asia, and will allow Pakistan to reap dividends of its active membership in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation programme.
The M-4 motorway project, expected to be completed by November 2019, will support the National Highway Authority (NHA) to improve road management, maintenance and procurement capacity. It will also assist the NHA to enhance road safety through training, capacity development and by improving operational frameworks.