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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

“Allama Iqbal Industrial City” may get new interchange: Asad Umar

Asad Umar, Minister for Planning and Development, points out that government may keep budgetary allocations for a new interchange on M3 and link road between M3 and M4 to facilitate the newly launched, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, (AIIC) near Faisalabad. AIIC is first CPEC linked Special Economic Zone that has seen ground breaking on Jan 3, when PM Imran Khan visited the site along with his key cabinet members.

Asad Umar, the Federal Minister for planning and development Pakistan, recently disclosed that the federal government may consider allocating budgets for an additional interchange and an access road connecting M3 and M4 in to facilitate Allama Iqbal Industrial City (AIIC) near Faisalabad.

Asad Umar revealed this, when he recently appeared with Television anchor, Moeed Pirzada’s, in later’s talk show, ‘Hard Talk’ on 92 news on Monday, 13th of January.

New Interchange & Link Road for Allama Iqbal Industrial City and Special Economic Zone (SEZ)

During the discussion, Dr. Pirzada reminded Asad Umar of his presence at the groundbreaking ceremony of Allama Iqbal Industrial City (AIIC), on the 3rd of January, where the Chairman of Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC), Mian Kashif Ashfaq, requested the Prime Minister to sanction a new interchange on M3, for Allama Iqbal Industrial City and also requested a link road connecting M3 and M4 to provide better integration to the large Special Economic Zone (SEZ) that is taking shape, near Faisalabad, under the public private partnership.

FIEDMC is a public listed company that brings together Faisalabad’s business community and Punjab government on one platform. Allama Iqbal Industrial City (AIIC) is FIEDMC’s third project and is the first CPEC linked SEZ that has seen ground breaking. FIEDMC was launched in 2004 as a “Public Private Partnership” with Mian Lateef (of Chenab Group) as its first Chairman. Value Added City (VATC) was FIEDMC’s first project, followed by Faisalabad Industrial City. AIIC is now the third project.

Dr. Pirzada questioned Asad Umar, minister for planning and development, if the federal government will grant the new interchange and link road. Asad Umar replied positively and explained that the government will consider allocating budget for the construction of a new interchange and link road in the coming budget 2020-2021. Currently the newly inaugurated industrial city (AIIC) is being fed by Sahianwala Interchange on M3.

FIEDMC project, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, is one of the success stories of PPPA. This Special Economic Zone, with an expanse of over 3000 acres, has already attracted foreign investments from American Businessmen

Nine Special Economic Zones linked with CPEC

This discussion followed further queries about the progress of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) being constructed across the country. Nine SEZ’s have been planned as part of CPEC and China wants Pakistan to benefit from its policy of “Industrial Relocation”. Anchor showed his concern that so far only one such zone, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, has reached the stage of ground breaking.

Asad Umar however expressed his confidence that Rashakai Economic Zone, in KP, along M-1, Nowshera-Mardan Road and China Special Economic Zone, Dhabeji near Karachi will reach ground breaking within the next several months – in this calendar year. He however conceded that Punjab had structural advantages  in the sense that FIEDMC had experience of dealing with such large projects – its first project “Value Added City” (VATC) was completed around 2007-8.

ML-1 to see ground breaking in 2020

When reminded by Dr. Pirzada that PTI government needs large projects (mega projects) to show its performance, Asad Umar, minister for planning and development, that the largest project underway, is “ML-1” or “Main Line 1”. This Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line is one of four major railway lines in Pakistan, operated and maintained by Pakistan Railways. The line begins from Karachi City station and ends at Peshawar Cantonment Station. He mentioned how expansion work on ML-1 will soon start which is a six-year, $9 Billion upgrade and renovation, as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) ventures.

The mega project, part of CPEC Phase-II, is expected to kick start soon, in this year, along with the aforementioned economic zones. In fact, some say that the average rail speeds of ML-1 are now expected to double up to 160 kilometres per hour upon completion.

Read more: Allama Iqbal Industrial City attracts US investors

Asad Umar further mentioned that the pre-existing Lasbela Industrial Estates in Balochistan has been given the status of a Special Economic Zone in lieu of building one in the province. He asserted that such fast-paced progress deserves appreciation, especially for the authorities responsible for this development.

These projects, especially the industrial zones, are a combined venture of the provincial governments and big businesses of the respected area. Asad Umar admitted that government is short on resources and needs support and participation of private sector, though “Public Private Partnerships” for resource mobilisation. He disclosed that this collaboration is being encouraged through the ambit of Public-Private Partnership Authority (PPPA), of which he himself, ie Asad Umar, is the Chairman. And through this platform, he aims to initiate several projects that can help the national economy in the long run.

FIEDMC project, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, is one of the success stories of PPPA. This Special Economic Zone, with an expanse of over 3000 acres, has already attracted foreign investments from American Businessmen, as was disclosed during a meeting between American Business Forum delegation and Chairman FIEDMC, Mian Kashif Ashfaq.

Read more: PM Khan envisions bringing people out of poverty with strong economy

With 1000 acres of land sold so far, Mian Kashif, Chairman FIEDMC, revealed that while four Chinese companies have signed MOUs so far, around 15-20 more Chinese companies will ink agreements (MOUs) with FIEDMC to invest in Allama Iqbal Industrial City in the coming months. Moreover, the number of Chinese investors, in the projects of FIEDMC, are expected to reach up to 150 by the end of the next year.