NA body assures completion of Lowari Tunnel in 3.8 years

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Communication with MNA Sufyan Yusuf in chair on Wednesday assured national importance project Lowari Tunnel in Dir Khyber Pakhtunkhwa connecting China and Central Asian States will be completed in 3.8 years, subject to provision of funds. 
Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Shahid Ashraf Tarar told the NA Standing Committee with completion of this project, Chitral would be connected with rest of the country particularly during winter and snowfall season. 
Original PC-I cost of the project was Rs 7.983 billion, first revised PC-I cost (2011) Rs 18.132 billion and second revised PC-I (under process) the cost of the scheme is Rs 26.954 billion. Total expenditure incurred to date on this project is Rs 9.922 billion. In the budget 2014-15, the government has allocated Rs 2 billion for it. Up till now there is 32 percent progress on this project. 
Tarar said there were special directives of Nawaz Sharif to reduce cost and time of this project and consultation with consultant in this regard is in progress. The project is delay due to multiple factors including revision in design for all underground and above ground works after 2005 earthquake and 2006 and 2010 flash floods. 
He said the work also suspended for ten months due to military operation in Malakand/Swat during 2009-10. The government decision to convert Lawari Rail Tunnel into Road Tunnel in July 2009, which took about two and a half year to redesign and revision of PC-I also responsible for delay of the project, he maintained. Non-payment to contractor and dispute resolution also became hurdles in smooth continuation of the project. 
However, NHA chairman told three years were required for civil work and eight months for electric and mechanical work on the project. 
About future funds requirements the project would require Rs 5 billion in 2014-15 and same amount in 2015-16. During 2016-17, the project will require Rs 4.880 billion and Rs 3.300 billion in 2017-18 for post completion of civil work, Tarar added. 
The Committee was told ventilation duct were made to provide fresh air in the 8 kilometers long tunnel. Special arrangements were also made in case of fire with in the tunnel and safe exit from there. The NHA chairman said Korean engineers were working on the project and asked the Committee to ensure safety of foreigners because some times the local administration could not cooperate properly.
State Minister for Communication Abdul Hakeem said the government has given special attention towards completion of communications network across the country. The roads network plays an important role in the economic development of a country. He suggested the public representatives to guide the Ministry in spending the taxpayer’s money and also identify the mistake if committed. 
Najaf Abbas Sial member, Ramesh Lal, Salim Rehrnan, Hamid-ul-Haq Khalil, Muhammad Muzammil Qureshi, Ms Naseema Hafeez Panezai, Usman Khan Tarakai, Ms Shahjehan Mangrio, Dr Darshan and Nazir Ahmed Uughio attended the meeting.

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