LAHORE  - The Punjab government is all set to establish Khadam-i-Punjab Daihi (rural) Roads Programme (KPRP) Authority which will award contracts, supervise rehabilitation and construction works, it has been learnt.

Earlier, all the construction of roads in Punjab was done by Communication and Works department (C&W) with a big operational network province-wise. The same department handles management of technical and financial affairs related to all schemes undertaken by its various attached departments. Moreover, Highways Department (North & South Regions), Architecture Department and District Support and Monitoring Department were other wings of the C&W.

After the KPDRP Authority is established, the role of the C&W will be restricted to only construction of buildings or other ADP schemes other than rehabilitation of roads.

Dozens of authorities and companies, established to ensure transparency and good governance, have already been working in Punjab in presence of government departments.

Official sources in the Punjab government revealed that the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has agreed to the idea of authority in principle and it would be established soon.

The sources further told this scribe that the CM wanted the authority be established to tackle mega project of Khadam-i-Punjab Daihi (rural) Roads Programme worth Rs 150 billion.

The C&W Department Minister, the Secretary, engineers and provincial members of parliamentarians, consultants and contractors are on a six day official trip to China to invite the Chinese construction companies to invest in the KPDRP. They said that the officials would convince the Chinese contractors to invest in the rural roads construction program.

Responding a query, a senior officer of the Chief Minister Office said that he could not explain the purpose of inviting foreign contractors for a tiny task of rehabilitation of roads when the indigenous contractors could do the same in a good way. The foreign investors could enhance cost of the projects on the name of quality etc, the officer feared. He cited that in many projects awarded to the Chinese companies in power sector, the const of investment increased many times than the original one.

In presence of a massive C&W department network in Punjab, the setting up an authority to award contracts and deal with rural roads construction works was above comprehension, the officer said. when the provincial contractor were least interested in small patch work in the farfetched rural areas and construction of small segments of roads, how the giant foreign companies would do it, the officer questioned. He said that it would be possible only by increasing cost of projects.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has already inaugurated the Khadam-i-Punjab Daihi Roads Programme for repair and construction of rural roads in the province to repair and reconstruct 2000 km over the next three years at a cost of Rs150 billion. First of all the CM inaugurated the construction of eight-kilometre long road from Ladheke Bhullar to Pando in Suey Aasal in Kasur district. The width of the rural roads will also be increased from 10 feet to 12 feet.

Some of the authorities already working in Punjab are Drug Regulatory Authority, Punjab Food Authority, Punjab Revenue Authority, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Motor Registration Authority (MRA), Punjab Building Control Authority, Punjab Social Protection Authority Lahore, Punjab Food Authority, Parks Horticulture Authority Punjab, Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority, Punjab Daanish Schools & Centers of Excellence Authority, Punjab Safe City Authority, Punjab Blood Transfusion Authority, Punjab Irrigation & Drainage Authority, Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), Lahore Ring Road Authority, Sasti Roti Authority.

Punjab Private Education Promotion and Regulatory Authority (PPERA, District Health and Education authorities, Mines and Minerals Authority are also on the cards.