The Senate Standing Committee on Communications in its meeting on Tuesday at Parliament Lodges took up issues pertaining to Toll Plazas on highways and motorways in the country. It was also briefed on the Dir – Chitral Motorway proposed by NHA, M-8 Motorway, Hub Bridge on N-25, attack on personal vehicle of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi near Behra Service Area on Motorway and Security situation on Sialkot – Lahore Motorway. In addition to this, further discussion on payment to land owners whose land had been acquired for the construction of a road from Kaghan to Babusar also took place in the meeting.
Chaired by Senator Hidayat Ullah, the meeting was attended by Senator Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Senator Mir, Muhammad Yousaf Badini, Senator Dr. Ashok Kumar, Senator Islamuddin Sheikh, Senator Behramand Tangi, Senator Liaqat Khan Tarakai, Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Lt. Gen (R) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah and senior officers from the Ministry for Communication, National Highway Authority (NHA), KPK Highway Authority, Motorway Police along with all concerned.
The meeting commenced with a discussion on the number of Toll Plazas established on the Motorway and the mode of awarding contracts. The members asserted the need for transparency while awarding contracts and stressed the need for a detailed briefing on the tendering process. Expanding the playing field for new players and generating competition was stressed as well. The Committee decided to club this agenda item with that pertaining to the M8 Motorway and summon the Pakistan Engineering Council for a detailed briefing regarding various aspects of the Motorway and the criteria according for which technical bids were vetted, in the next meeting.
While discussing the Chakdarra-Dir Motorway, the Committee was informed that the Khyber Pakhtukhwa Government is planning to construct Chakdarra-Dir Motorway from Chakdara to Rabat (54 Km) on PPP Mode of financing, PC-II for appointment of consultant to conduct commercial and financial feasibility study on PPP Mode of financing has been prepared and has been approved for the cost of PKR 25.00 million. Bids received in response to the RFP floated on 30 August, 2020. Bid evaluation is in the process and expectedly the consultancy will be awarded in the first week of October, 2020. PKHA has worked out a tentative cost of the project including land acquisition and resettlement to the tune of PKR 13.5 billion. The construction of the motorway will provide better communication facility while bypassing the stated bottle-necks and will shorten the distance to 28 km. Chairman Committee, Senator Hidayat Ullah was of the view that this project is a public-private partnership and keeping in view the traffic congestion on the route it can be safely deemed commercially viable. The Committee was informed that a traffic count will be conducted. The Committee showed concern regarding the standards of KPK Highway Authority and enquired whether or not it was in line with NHA. The Committee was assured that the only difference lay between the two was tariff rates. Chairman Committee, Senator Hidayat Ullah was of the view that constructing this highway was imperative for road safety. Chief Engineer Chakdarra Project Director has been summoned in the next meeting. Regarding Swat Expressway, the Committee objected to the quality of work on the project and directed that work on the project must be according to NHA standards.
Taking up the issue of payment to land owners whose land had been acquired for the construction of a road from Kaghan to Babusar, Chairman Committee, Senator Hidayat Ullah showed grave displeasure regarding delay. He asserted that the rates for the land determined in 1999 could not be applied today. This would be a gross violation of rights. Chairman Committee, Senator Hidayat Ullah said that if compliance report is not submitted in the next meeting constitutional action will be taken against the Ministry.
Deliberating over the issue of the attack on personal vehicle of Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi near Behra Service Area on Motorway and Security situation on Sialkot – Lahore Motorway; the Committee asserted that workability of cameras needs to be assured on motorways.