ISLAMABAD / QUETTA: While underlining the need for an early restoration of road and railway networks in the country, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday noted that major highways have been repaired in the flood-affected areas, ensuring smooth rescue and relief operations.

The prime minister arrived in Quetta on a day-long visit and later took an aerial view of flood-hit areas in Balochistan and Punjab.

Accompanied by National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Khurram Agha, Mr Sharif said the work on a number of highways and roads has been completed, while efforts are under way to restore traffic on the remaining ones on an emergency basis.

The prime minister had already stressed that rehabilitation of the communication infrastructure was the top priority.

Shehbaz visits Bolan Pass to review restoration of highway

Mr Sharif was told that during the last two weeks, damaged roads in all the four provinces and Gilgit- Baltistan have been restored.

The Mansehra-Naran-Chilas N-15 National Highway has been restored, while Karachi-Chaman N-25 highway, where a section from Hub to Khuzdar, was washed away has also been restored for traffic, the prime minister was briefed.

Similarly, the Quetta-Nushki section of Lakpass-Dalbandin N-40 highway, Chakdara-Dir section on Nowshera-Chitral N-45 highway, Rajanpur-Taunsa and D.I. Khan-Pezu sections on Indus Highway, Sibi-Quetta section on Sukkur-Quetta N-65 highway, Fort Munro section of Qilla Saifullah-Multan N-70 highway, Alpuri-Basham section on Khwazakhela-Besham N-90 highway, Gilgit-Shandur section on Shandur Road N-140

and Shangous section on Strategic Highway S-1 have been restored for traffic.

The Karakorum Highway N-35 was also completely rehabilitated which was earlier closed for traffic from Indus Kohistan to Hunza.

The restoration work was underway on Zhob-D.I. Khan section of D.I. Khan-Kuchlak N-50, Fatahpur-Kalam section at Chakdara-Kalam N-95 highway and Wangu Hills-Banja section on Ratodero-Gwadar M-8 Motorway.

Earlier, the prime minister arrived in Quetta on a day-long visit to review restoration works on major highways in the province.

Upon his arrival, Mr Sharif was received by Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Kamran Murtaza, and Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili.

He visited the Bolan Pass to review restoration work on N-65 highway, which has been cut off for over a month, where he was briefed by the NHA chairman and other officials about efforts to restore roads, railways and bridges in the area.

The prime minister appreciated the district administration, federal authorities and other institutions “for their commitment and devotion” which he said was a “source of inspiration for the people.”

“I salute all those who have been involved in relief and rehabilitation efforts,” Mr Sharif said, adding that damages to Bibi Nani and Pinjra bridges disrupted traffic from Quetta to Sukkur, leaving about 6000 people stranded on both ends.

The premier appreciated the NHA, law enforcement agencies, Pakistan Army and other authorities who restored the damaged Bibi Nani bridge within eight hours, adding that “they did a great national service”.

The primer also announced a relief grant of Rs5 million relief for the labourers working to restore the highway and another Rs1m grant for those working on the restoration of a major pipeline supplying gas to Quetta and other areas.

He also announced Rs3m for labourers who have restored the Bibi Nani bridge.

A committee would be set up to dispense the amount on merit, he announced.

He said Balochistan chief minister and chief secretary have been coordinating with the relevant authorities to speed up the rehabilitation work.

While referring to the damages caused by floods, he added that the catastrophe has affected all provinces with over 1300 deaths, while economic and infrastructure damages are also enormous.

During the briefing, the NHA chairman said the authority will hire foreign consultants for reconstruction of Pinjra Bridge and the highway.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2022

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