CPEC cuts Swat-Karachi travel time by half

By Khalid Aziz | Gwadar Pro Jun 27, 2022

ISLAMABAD, Jun. 27 (Gwadar Pro)- Rashid Ali is a trader living in Orangi, Karachi. Originally from Swat, a scenic valley in northern Pakistan, Rashid’s family migrated to the southern port city decades ago in search of a better livelihood. Swat lived in their hearts, but the long and uncomfortable journey prevented them from frequent visits. The travel time was around 30 hours in normal condition but could stretch further in case of a minor incident on the narrow two-way Indus Highway.

However, this was before the successful implementation of the first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative.

Rashid Ali traveled to Swat a week ago to see his daughters married there and was stunned after reaching his destination in only 20 hours on the newly-built motorways of CPEC. It was even more astonishing for him as he traveled back to Karachi in only 17 hours in a comfortable vehicle on hassle-free roads.

‘I was really amazed. I didn’t expect this as I was traveling to Swat after a decade with the hardships of previous journeys in my mind’, Rashid told Gwadar Pro. The long hectic travel on dilapidated roads was not the only misery, but the absence of rest areas, emergency services, quality restaurants, and proper security arrangements further worsened the experience. Now the CPEC motorways have all necessities available at their service areas and the transport companies have deployed more comfortable vehicles due to smooth roads, he said.

In 2015, Pakistan and China joined hands to build the Peshawar-Karachi motorway link as part of the Western alignment of CPEC. M-1 and M-2 between Peshawar and Lahore were already built. Pakistan built the Lahore Multan section while China State Construction Engineering Corp. built the 393-kilometre-long stretch between Multan and Sukkar at $2.9 billion provided by China as concessional loans. This was the portion that made the real difference by diverting Karachi-bound traffic from the Indus Highway to the Peshawar-Karachi motorway of CPEC. The KP government was quick to connect Swat with the route through the 80-kilometre-long Swat Expressway, which brought big relief to the people of the valley as large numbers of them live in Karachi for jobs and businesses.

The distance will come down further after a few more road projects of CPEC are completed.

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