ISLAMABAD-The National Highway Authority (NHA) has started working on road infrastructure projects reflected in the federal government’s proposed Public Sector Development Programme Plus plan but with ambitious deadlines. A meeting in this regard was held last Friday with Deputy Chairman Planning Commission in the chair and the road authority was directed to initiate working on the said projects. The federal government has recently announced a three-year developmental plan (2020-2023), which is envisioned to be completed with the investment of private sector.

A total of 53 mega projects involving an investment of Rs 5.2 trillion have been identified. The Plan has been divided into two categories and is named as PSDP Plus.

The first category has 29 projects in 11 sectors with zero government involvement. The total investment in this category would be Rs 2.9 trillion, while the second category has 24 projects in 7 sectors with limited government involvement. Total investment in this category would be Rs2.3 trillion.

The road infrastructure and related projects appear to be one of the major contributors of PSDP Plus where investment is envisaged to be mainly from the private sector. Sukkar-Hyderabad Motorway and construction of 527 km long Tarnol, Fatehjang, Talagang, Mianwali, Muzaffar Garh Highway are the new projects under the first category whereas grant of Operating Concession of N-5, a major artery commonly known as GT Road, an existing maintenance related project.

The second category of projects where government may pitch in some investment include 14 infrastructure projects out of total 24 where NHA has been assigned to execute the work of 9 projects due to its managerial and technical capabilities compared to other similar organizations in the country. Three months are given for the Sukkar-Hyderabad Motorway Project to complete the process while six months are given for rest of the two projects. However, some of the senior officers of NHA are of the view that the deadlines given in the PSDP Plus are ambitious in nature as most of the projects need comprehensive studies.

A former Member Finance NHA Shoaib Khan appreciated the idea of PSDP Plus, however, he said: “Having examined the list of projects in road infrastructure sector, it can be said that most of the projects require detailed feasibility studies from technical and commercial point of view, whereas, the timeline for project preparation given in the list appears to be very ambitious.”

He further explained that hurriedly prepared studies are likely to jeopardize the very concept of PSDP Plus which will ultimately result in huge variations from the envisaged targets and estimates.

“It is therefore suggested that feasibility studies should be prepared thoroughly and an appropriate timeline should be given to complete the assignment,” he said. On the other side when contacted, General Manager Planning NHA Ikram-us-Saqlain Hyder informed that the road authority has started working on the projects and they would try hard to meet the deadlines.

“All of the projects are already reflected in PSDP 2019-20 and we have already done substantial work upon them”, he said; adding; “The projects would be executed after taking all of the aspects in to count.”