The deadline for the completion of the M4, an under-construction motorway in Punjab province, whose groundbreaking ceremony had been performed by former prime minister Gillani on August 19, 2009 and scheduled to be complete within three years by August 2012, has been extended and now it is expected to be finalised by September 1, 2015.

The M4 to be linking Faisalabad, Khanewal and-Multan would not only reduce travel distance between the districts but also contribute to the national and regional trade and provide better access to the farmers. It is being constructed in four stages: (i) Faisalabad-Gojra (58 km), (ii) Gojra-Shorkot (61 km), (iii) Shorkot-Dinpur-Khanewal (64 km); and (iv) Khanewal-Multan (57 km) with total length of 240km. Moreover, two bridges will be constructed on the River Ravi and Mailsi-Sidhnai link Channel. Fifteen interchanges and 23 flyovers/underpasses, 11 bridges, 19 underpasses, 191 pipe culverts and 55 WCC boxes and gas culverts are part of the project. Initially, estimated cost was USD 601 million or Rs61 billion.

The National Highway Authority (NHA) would spend Rs12.9 billion on the construction of Khanewal-Multan section of Faisalabad-Multan Motorway. Some 57-km part of the project is being financed by Islamic Development Bank (IDB) as per approval of PC-I from Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC). It would also form part of National Trade Corridor (NTC) Programme.

According Muhammad Kashif Nawaz, the project director of M-4 Khanewal section, the project was to be completed in three years. It means M4 should have been completed in August 2012 or at least December 2012. As per land acquisition officer Abdullah Bashir, the land for Gojra-Shorkot-Khanewal-Multan has been acquired but Shorkot-Khanewal, section three of M-4, is in progress. In this section, land of about 35 villages of Shorkot and Khanewal is involved; awards for 16 villages land has been announced while the process for other land is underway.

He said that some landlords had got stay orders against the project. However, the project completion date has been extended by the NHA authorities for nine months i.e. up to September 2015, mainly due to shortage of funds for land acquisition and slow process of relocation of utilities.

Kashif Nawaz added that the project was progressing well and expected to be completed by September 1, 2015. He further added that M-4 would facilitate the people of Multan, Gojra, Toba Tek Sing, Abdul Hakim, Chichawatni, Sahiwal, and Khanewal. It would minimise the travelling between Islamabad and Multan.

It would be a four-lane project but the structure has been prepared with six-lane provision for future expansion requirements. It would ease the major load from the economic lifeline of National Highway and also cut short the distance between Multan and Islamabad.

According to officials, construction phase of this vital route has been 65% completed while construction of service areas and toll plazas will also be started in the near future. The top asphaltic layer has been laid on 80 percent of the total track measuring 57 kilometre of Khanewal-Multan section. According to the sources and government officials, the construction is according to the NHA specifications and meeting all the international standards.

Meanwhile, MNA Muhammad Khan Daha, MPAs - Nishat Ahmad Daha, Ch Fazalur Rehman, local resident including Dr Parvaiz Akhtar, Mehar Mumtaz Sial, Haji Tahir Sial, Mian Ikram Ullah and some others while taking the newsman said the apparently quality and standard of the work completed and in progress on M-4, section four of Faisalabad-Khanewal-Multan was on par with specifications and benchmark. They all appreciated the efforts of the federal government, and said that after completion of Motorway M-4, a new era of development and progress would begin, ushering vistas of economic prosperity and employments for people.

MPA Nishat Ahmad Daha opined that it would be better if sector-3 of M-4 - Shorkot-Khanewal (61-km) was completed first, because work on three sectors had also been completed more than 50% but at this sector (Shorkot-Khanewal) land was being acquired currently.