In a recent development, the construction of the Sukkur-Multan motorway, known as Motorway 5 or M5, has been completed two months before its deadline. The newly-constructed road is a significant part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) Karachi to Lahore motorway as it will reduce motorists’ travel time from six hours to 3.5 hours.
With the cooperation of China, a 392-kilometre-long track has been laid down to connect the two cities. Per sources, the project has incurred a cost of $2.89 billion. Built by the China Estate Construction Engineering Corporation, it is the biggest project connecting Southern Punjab and Interior Sindh.
“The preparation from our end is complete and we are ready to hand it over to the Punjab government,” the Deputy General Manager of China Estate Construction, Dung Zhao Ji said. “Our company worked day and night to complete the project in a timely fashion.”
As part of the project, a massive bridge has been constructed over River Sutlej, 54 smaller bridges, 12 service areas, 11 interchanges, 10 flyovers and 426 underpasses near Bahawalpur on M5.
A service station has been set up after every 65 kilometres on the motorway but they are yet to be made operational by the National Highway Authority (NHA). However, no fuel stations have been built so far.
The M5 is the first motorway where service lanes have been built on both the sides of the road. Farmers will be provided with the facility to grow their crops on either side of the road and quickly send them to the market through the new road.
The project, which has played an important role in the development and progress of Southern Punjab, was inaugurated by Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.
The Sukkur-Multan motorway will run at a speed of 120 kilometres per hour. According to details, about 97% Pakistani and 3% Chinese labourers participated in the construction of the project.
Dung Zhao Ji, together with a Chinese delegation, invited The Express Tribune to a tour of the motorway from Multan to Sukkur. During the tour, the Chinese team also inspected several sections and control rooms for quality.
Speaking about the project, Zhao Ji said that M5 is the first project of its kind in the country that has been completed before its designated time, which is a big achievement.
Replying to a question, the chairman said that his team faced certain security issues while working on the project, however, the government provided special security to the team, comprising the army, the rangers and the police.
“We are thankful to the Pakistani government for deploying their armed forces during the project to ensure our security,” he said.
He further said that the construction of an interchange at the motorway’ zero-point near Rohri Canal is underway.
“This interchange would allow entering the M5 from Sukkur. On the other hand, the M6, which will be extending from the Rohri Canal to Hyderabad, and later a motorway from Hyderabad to Karachi, will also be laid down in future,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2019.