Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M5)-A miracle happening to Pakistan
by Bilal Sabri
Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M-5) [Photo/Xinhua]
The residents of Multan, located on the banks of the Chenab River, woke up on July 24, a humid day, to witness an unprecedented activity in the city. Their curiosity changed into a pleasant surprise when they saw that the Motorway 5 (M5) stood completed two weeks ahead of schedule. Multan is Pakistan's 7th largest city and is the major cultural and economic center of southern Punjab.
History is in the making in Pakistan with the complete construction of Multan-Sukkur Motorway (M5) in July of 2019. The mega project was developed as part of a pilot project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the framework of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The strategically-placed six-lane M5 starts from Multan and connects Jalalpur, Peerwala, Ahmed Pur East, Rahimyar Khan, Sadiqabad, Ubaro, Pano Aqil after finishing at Sukkur. The project was inaugurated by Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’sformer prime minister on May 6, 2019. The 392-kilometre Sukkur-Multan Motorway is a part of the country’s Peshawar-Karachi Motorway. The M5 was designed for speeds of up to 120 km with a total investment of around $2.89 billion. Around 90% of project's cost has been financed through concessionary loans on interest rates of 1.6% from China, while the remaining has been financed by the government of Pakistan. The motorway has 12 service areas, 10 rest areas, 11 interchanges, 10 flyovers, and 426 underpasses.
The project is very significant as it has been constructed with the latest technologyand methods, and uses the Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) and has been designed to resist floods. It is equipped with technologies such as FM broadcasting, 360-degree angle monitoring, WIFI in service areas, and ample night lighting. Sukkur-Multan Motorway relied on domestically produced materials and goods such as 60 million bricks, 6 million tiles, 1 million tons of cement, 9,200 sets of machines and tools and created more than 29,000 jobs for locals during construction. M5 also facilitated residents to live better by constructing schools, small bridges, avenues, wells and water channels.
With the completion of M5, CPEC has entered its stabilization stage. CPEC projects have largely helped Pakistan come out of economic constraints， and has largely assisted Pakistan in attracting massive funds as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The world has started to rank Pakistan among potential top ranked economic powers of the future as a recent World Bank report listed Pakistan among the top 15 emerging economies of the globe.
Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said they appreciate China’s contribution towards Pakistan’s economic progress in the form of CPEC. CPEC is an attractive reflection of the Pak-China strategic partnership.
National Highway Authority (NHA) M5 General Manager Muhammad Naseem Arif said the motorway is very impressive in terms of its quality and construction process at a ceremony held in Multan.
The authority worked closely with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and overcame a number of difficulties so that they could complete the large project within three years.
Li Ganchun, chief of the M5 project from the CSCEC, appreciated the security provided by the Pakistani side, saying that the M5 will help Pakistan connect its north and south, improve the country's transportation situation and facilitate social economic development in the region along the motorway.
CPEC is akin to a miracle happening to Pakistan's ailing economy. According to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr Yao Jing, CPEC has generated around 75,000 direct and indirect jobs. But this figure is just the tip of the iceberg. A recent World Bank report has claimed that at the current pace, CPEC will create more than one million jobs in Pakistan by the year 2030.
Since Prime Minister Imran Khan has shifted focus on establishment of vocational training institutes and Special Economic Zones across the country, millions of new high-end and low-end jobs would be created due to economic activities generated out of CPEC.
And after China's investments, other regional and global players have also jumped in to boost economic activity in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia has signed an investment agreement of over $20 billion with Pakistan. Other regional players like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, Russia and Malaysia have also announced investment ventures in Pakistan.
European economic giants Germany, France and United Kingdom are also exploring opportunities to invest in Pakistan which is becoming an investment-friendly destination after the recently announced revolutionary visa regime by the government of Pakistan which has opened up Pakistan for investors, tourists and visitors from across the globe.
The public is ready to experience M5 and reachtheir destination in a shorter span of time in comfort on the passage that exists due to the warm and close Pak-China friendship (CPEC).