National Highway Council meets in Islamabad

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Islamabad: (Parliament Times) The Federal Minister for Communications Hafiz Abdul Karim today presided over the meeting of National Highway Council (NHC) at the Ministry of Communications. Federal Minister of State for Communications Muhammad Junaid Chaudhry, Secretary Communications, Chairman National Highway Authority and other members of the council participated in the meeting.
The meeting gave approval for budget estimates for 2017-18 and the Five Year Development plan (2018-23). The meeting was informed that under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) around Rs. 320 bn were allocated for the year 2017-18. The total number of projects were 85 which were currently under various phases of execution and included 72 on-going and 13 news projects. In addition, Rs. 2.46 bn were allocated as maintenance grant for the annual maintenance of national highways including Rs. 0.25 bn for KKH Thakot-Kunjerab road and Rs. 0.075 bn for KKH Skardu road. Chairman NHA Shahid Ashraf Tarar informed the meeting that the organization had been able to steadily increase its revenue share to around Rs. 25 billion over the last three years thanks to the introduction of financial and administrative reforms. He said the PSDP allocation of NHA had increased tremendously over the last few years which can be assessed easily from the fact that it stood at Rs. 63 billion in 2013-14 but rose to Rs. 320 bn in 2017-18. He said this reflected the increasing confidence of the Federal government in NHA’a ability regarding the most appropriate utilization of the allocated funds. He said NHA was currently executing projects worth over Rs. 1400 billion scattered in all parts of the country. He said a vast network of motorways was being established under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that upon completion in next two years, will take the overall motorway length in Pakistan to over 2400 km.
The council also approved the process of reform and restructuring initiated at National Highway Authority under which power has been decentralized from the head quarter to the four main zones of Central (Punjab), North (KPK & ), West (Balochistan) and South (Sindh), each headed by a Member (Engr). The Chairman NHA informed the meeting that the prime objective of the restructuring process was to enhance the institutional capacity to ensure the efficient implementation and monitoring of the development projects.
The council also discussed in detail the problem of overloading and the resulting damage it was doing to the road network. The Chairman informed the meeting that major part of the development activity will be completed in the next five years with the completion of all the on-going and planned projects. It was, therefore, necessary to take immediate steps to overcome the problem of overloading to keep the highways and motorways in safe condition. The council decided to form a steering committee at the Ministry to review the efforts already made in this regard and to chalk out a future course of action. The committee would include representatives from Ministry of Communications, National Highway Authority, Motorway Police and private sector experts to hold negotiations with all the stakeholders and ensure the implementation of National Highway Safety Ordinance-2000.
The council also approved the proposal for the time-scale promotion of NHA employees, enhancement in rental ceiling for low paid employees to up to Rs. 10000 and admissibility of utility allowance.
The Highway Council, unanimously, acknowledged the services of the outgoing Chairman and his role in the successful and in time completion of mega road projects initiated in the last four years. The Federal Minister, in his concluding remarks, said that without Chairman NHA’s dynamic leadership, management skills, honesty and hard work, the giant task of successfully executing the historic motorway network could not have been possible.

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