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Malakand tunnel project costing almost 23 times its original estimate

Malakand tunnel project - A positive initiative by NHA to facilitate the people nearby and to provide an alternate route to a windy, dangerous road usually traveled on. But its cost has swelled up to 23 times its original estimation.

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The cost of the Malakand Tunnel project has reached to Rs 23.565 billion, whereas the initial estimated cost of the project was Rs. 9,043.325 million. ECNEC has revised its PC-I thrice.

National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Communications was informed of this setback, that was held on Thursday under the Chairmanship of MNA Ibadullah Khan.

NHA informed the committee that the original PC-1 of Malakand Tunnel with the scope of Single Tube Tunnel was approved by ECNEC in 2011. The first revised PC-I with the scope of two tube tunnel amounting to Rs.16,554 million was approved by ECNEC in 2017. The cost of the project has enhanced due to the increase in dollar rate and the second revised PC-I cost is Rs. 23.565 billion.

The meeting discussed the collection of receivables of NHA and year-wise collection of toll plazas and NHA Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Member (Planning) NHA briefed the Committee about the implementation status of the Committee’s recommendations. The Committee was informed about the PSDP 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Read more: Kartarpur Border Terminal: FWO completes 80% of the work

About Havalian-Thak project, NHA informed that M/s China Communication and Construction Company is working on the project, the activities are at full swing and the project will be completed on Feb 29, 2020. The Hyderabad-Sukker (M-6) project is included in PSDP 2019-20 as BOT Project, NHA is conducting a feasibility study and preparatory work.

The Committee recommended including KwazaKhela–Besham expressways in PSDP 2020-21. The Committee recommended constructing interchange for Abbotabadon-Hazara Motorway to facilitate the public and boost tourism.

The committee was informed that the total receivables of NHA amounted to Rs. 15,042.58 out of which Rs.9960.146 was against FWO; Rs.4485.247 was against BOT Projects and Rs. 597.186 was against NDARA.

Year-wise toll collection has increased to Rs. 23,269.65 million in 2018-19 which was 13,991.37 million in 2013-14. The NHA informed that its average annual collection is Rs.30 billion against the expenditure of Rs. 70 billion.

NHA, which is at present facing a shortage of funds actually relies upon the release of finances from the government. The committee directed the ministry of communication to submit, in the next meeting, the physical and financial progress on Ayun-Bamburet Road and Chitral–Buni and Mastuj Road.

Read more: Swat Expressway: Modern gateway to ancient valley of romance & beauty

The committee also recommended that like FWO and NLC all contractors in NHA projects may be allowed a 10% rebate in tax by FBR for providing equal opportunity to all and promoting competition.

An earlier sub-Committee was dissolved due to expiry of thirty days, the Committee decided to constitute a sub-Committee under the convener-ship of Murtaza Javed Abbasi to complete its probe/examination of on-going projects, non-operational completed projects, and projects for which allocation has been made but work not yet started.

Malakand Tunnel Project

It is worth mentioning that the 14 kilometer Malakand Pass located at Dargai–Batkhela on Nowshehra-Chitral Highway is situated in hilly terrain with steep slope and alignment defects which caused traffic congestion and possible traffic accidents in severely winding curves. Fragile geology, steep slope, and rainfall frequently caused landslides and blocked the road.

The tunnel project is a remedial measure by NHA to deal with such problems through the construction of an alternative 9.77 km Malakand Pass with Tunnel. Original PC-I of the project was approved by ECNEC in its meeting held in May 2011 at an estimated cost of Rs. 9,043.325 million with a single tube tunnel proposal.

The construction of the Malakand tunnel would not only shorten the distance for travelers belonging to Dir, Malakand, Swat, and adjacent areas but also provide Pakistani goods easy access to Central Asian states. The 9.7km project includes three bridges and approach roads on both sides of the tunnel.

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