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FIA to probe PML-N’s ‘pricey’ road projects

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been mandated to investigate the “exorbitant cost” incurred on the road construction projects undertaken by the PML-N government.
“Investigation will reveal how a corrupt government looted the public exchequer by carrying out projects at a much higher cost,” he said while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony in Islamabad for the upgrading of Balochistan’s Jhaljao-Bela Road.
PM Imran alleged that the former government of PML-N extorted Rs200 million per kilometre on the construction of every four-lane road, the information about which was available on the websites. He termed corruption the “biggest problem” of the country, where a handful of people in power misused the public money.
“A corrupt government through misappropriation of funds and theft of tax money always leads to the loss and damage of a nation,” he said, adding that the plundered money could have been used for further communication projects, particularly in Balochistan.
Stressing an equitable national development, he said that road connectivity in Balochistan was essential for the socio-economic prosperity of the country.
“Unless Balochistan is made the stakeholder, the overall development of the country cannot be achieved,” he said, “Linking Balochistan with a developed Centre will be beneficial for both the province and the country.”
The premier said that he was committed to ensuring the uplift of such areas of Balochistan that faced neglect over the past 70 years.
On apparent apathy towards Balochistan, he held responsible the previous governments and also the politicians of the province, who he said ignored the overall development and “focused merely on their constituencies in view of gaining” electoral support.
“After completion of the government’s five-year tenure, I want our scorecard to have an outstanding highlight, ie carrying out an unprecedented phase of development in Balochistan to end its deprivation,” PM Imran said.
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In his speech, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said in three years, the federal and the coalition government had materialised numerous development projects for the benefit of the locals.
He added that Panjgur to Awaran and Jhaljao to Bela Highway would prove as the “shortest trade link” from the Iranian border to Karachi. “The main artery road of Chaman-Quetta-Khuzdar would be a milestone of socio-economic development in future,” CM Kamal said
Communication Minister Murad Saeed said the focus on Balochistan’s development was in line with PM Imran Khan’s vision of uplifting the underprivileged sections of the country.
He mentioned that work on the highways of Balochistan was underway at full pace to connect the province with the rest of the country.
National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Capt (retd) Khurram Agha said the 80-kilometre long Jhaljao-Bela Road would be linked with Awaran and the N-25 highway at a cost of Rs1.1 billion (PC-I), while the contract cost was Rs7.2 billion.
He added that Rs1.5 billion has been allocated for the project in Public Sector Development Project 2021-22 that would be completed in three years. “The two-lane road will have 182 culverts with an expected road travel of 2,645 vehicles daily,” Murad said.
Jhaljao is located in the southern part of Balochistan, surrounded by high mountains and deserts. The only means of transportation in the area is the Jhal Jhao-Bela Road.
The national highways in Balochistan are of significance in view of the regional trade from Pakistan to Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian states. The length of national highways in Balochistan is 4,128kms, which comprises around 30.42 per cent of NHA’s road network.
The NHA is working at full pace on the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At the same time, the uplift of adjoining roads in Balochistan will ensure the development of the province by connecting with the national communication network.

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