ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is seeking foreign investment of $1.7 billion to build a new highway in the southern province of Sindh to supplement a Chinese funded infrastructure network being laid across the country, APP reported, quoting Bloomberg news.
The National Highway Authority will ask for bids next week for the 296 kilometers (184 miles) highway between the cities of Hyderabad and Sukkar, the agency’s Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar said in an interview.
“Other than the Chinese this time we expect that Turkish Malaysians and South Koreans will come and bid,” Tarar said.
The report said Pakistan’s economic growth has accelerated to almost 5 percent in the past three years after averting a balance of payments crisis in 2013 by submitting to an International Monetary Fund loan program worth $6.6 billion, which ended last month.
The report said along with an easing of inflation and as domestic security threats have abated China announced last year it would invest in projects worth about $46 billion in Pakistan as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The report further said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pegging his 2018 reelection campaign on bridging chronic energy and infrastructure gaps as his administration targets a 7 percent economic growth rate within two years.
The construction of a six lane highway on the eastern route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is expected to start in the first quarter of next year, the Bloomberg said.
There is big gap between the potential and the actual road network said Mohammed Sohail, chief executive officer of Topline Securities Pakistan Ltd.
“Investors will look into this opportunity as the economy continues to expand.”
The Bloomberg further said the highway authority has so far started over $9.5 billion worth of projects in the past three years and is hoping to attract another $5 billion investment in the next five more than half of which will be pegged to upgrade the China corridor routes Tarar said.
The length of the main highway will be tripled to 1,800 kilometers by linking all road arteries with industrial zones on the route, Tarar said.
The 3,000 kilometer long corridor stretches from Xinjiang in western China to Pakistan s Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. Of China’s planned investment $11 billion is allocated for infrastructure projects and big chunk of it will be spent in Balochistan province home to the deep sea port in Gwadar.
The landscape of infrastructure is going to be transformed in the next three years, said Tarar. “Imagine you travel from Karachi to Peshawar on the motorway the time and energy it‘ll save with security ensured. Unless you have good infrastructure the economy will drag.”