BEIJING - The travel time from Havelian to Thakot will reduce from existing four hours to 1.5 hours after the completion of $1.315 billion Karakoram Highway (KKH) Phase-II, an early harvest project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework, next year.

The road infrastructure project being completed at an estimated cost of US$ 1.315 billion, is likely to be completed in the year 2020, according to official sources on Sunday.

The project is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with a total length of 118km, of which 39km is an  expressway with subgrade width of 24.7m, and 79km is Class-II highway with subgrade width of 12.3m.

After the completion of the project, the travel time from Havelian to Thakot will be reduced from  4 to 1.5 hours.

Giving further details of the project, the sources informed that commercial contract was signed on December 22, 2015, between National Highway Authority and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).

The project includes 105 bridges among which 60 are large bridges, 42 medium and three small bridges. There are six tunnels, among which two on expressway and four on Class-II highway.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 28, 2016. On the same day, the Pakistani Government and the Export-Import Bank of China signed the government to government loan agreement, and it came  into force on June 24, 2016. The project formally commenced on September 1, 2016. The construction  period is 42 months.

This project is to build a new road, not an up gradation of the existing road. As it is located in the mountainous area with complicated terrain, the construction work is extremely difficult. The milestones on tunnels, bridges, subgrades are all ahead of schedule. Two tranches of advance  payment have been released in 2016.

Up to now, 2071 Pakistani staff have been employed on the project which has created many indirect  jobs and played a positive role in the local economic development. The project also provides a great opportunity  for cultivating and training a large number of engineering talents.

In terms of environmental protection, the executing company has hired a well-known local third-party environmental monitoring agency, and strictly complied with the local standard.