PM tasks FIA to probe ‘high-cost’ road construction projects

ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said he had given mandate to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the exorbitant cost incurred on the road construction projects undertaken by the government of Pakistan Muslim League-N.
Addressing at the upgradation of Balochistan’s Jhaljao-Bela Road at an event held here at the PM House, the prime minister said investigation would reveal how a corrupt government looted the public exchequer by carrying out projects at a “much higher cost”.
Imran Khan said the PML-N extorted Rs 200 million per kilometre on construction of every four-lane road, the information about which was available on the websites.
He termed corruption the biggest problem of the country, where a handful of people in power misused the public money.
“A corrupt government through misappropriation of funds and theft of tax money always leads to the loss and damage of a nation,” he said, adding that the plundered money could have been used for further communication projects, particularly in Balochistan.
Stressing on an “equitable” national development, he said road connectivity in Balochistan was equally essential for the socio-economic prosperity of the country.
“Unless Balochistan is made the stakeholder, the overall development of the country cannot be achieved,” he said. “Linking Balochistan with a developed Centre will be beneficial for both the province and Pakistan”.
Imran Khan said he was committed to ensure uplift of the areas of Balochistan which faced neglect over the past 70 years.
On apathy towards Balochistan, he held responsible the previous governments and also the politicians of the province, who ignored the overall development and focused merely on their constituencies in view of gaining electoral support.
“After completion of the government’s five-year tenure, I want our scorecard to have an outstanding highlight, i.e, Carrying out an unprecedented phase of development in Balochistan to end its deprivation,” he said.
Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan said in three years, the federal and the coalition government had materialized numerous development projects for the benefit of the locals. He mentioned that Punjgur to Awaran and Jhal Jhao to Bela highway would prove as the “shortest trade link from the Iranian border to Karachi”.
He said the main artery road of Chaman-Quetta-Khuzdar would be a milestone of socio-economic development in future.
Federal Minister for Communication Murad Saeed said the focus on Balochistan’s development was in line with PM Imran Khan’s vision of uplifting the underprivileged sections of the country.
Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Capt (retd) Khurram Agha said the 80-kilometre-long Jhaljao-Bela Road would be linked with Awaran and the N-25 highway at a cost of Rs. 11,835 million (PC-1), while the contract cost was Rs. 7,208 million.
He mentioned that Rs.1,500 million had been allocated for this project in Public Sector Development Project P2021-22 to be completed in three years. The two-lane road will have 182 culverts with an expected road travel of 2,645 vehicles daily.
Jhaljao is located in the southern part of Balochistan, surrounded by high mountains and deserts. The only means of transportation in the area is the Jhal Jhao-Bela Road.
The national highways in Balochistan are of significance in view of the regi-onal trade from Pakistan to Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian states. The length of national highways in Balochistan is 4,128 km, which comprises around 30.42 percent of NHA’s road network.
The NHA is working at full pace on the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At the same time, the uplift of adjoining roads in Balochistan will ensure development of the province by connecting with the national communication network.