ISLAMABAD - The shrinking fiscal space and economic uncertainty in Pakistan has haunted a multibillion Kharian-Rawalpindi Motorway project as its successful contractor could not keep its consortium intact to complete the said project. After failure on part of the contractor to fulfill its obligations for the project, the fate of another Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway project has also become doubtful as its contract was also won by the same lead company but it has yet to flex its financial muscles to complete the project, which is called ‘financial close’.
It is pertinent to mention here that the groundbreaking of Kharian-Rawalpindi Motorway project was carried out by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif in the last days of his government.
Earlier, a total of three bidders were in the run to get the project including Frontier Works Organization (FWO)- ZEERUK, ZKB-SMC-SMADB- KASIB and Techno-Matracon – Power China Chengdu-ACC. However, a consortium of four companies Techno-Matracon–Power China Chengdu-ACC was declared as successful bidder and a letter of intent (LOI) was issued in August last year to build Kharian-Rawalpindi Motorway project on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis under Public Private Partnership Mode. According to reliable sources, the said letter of intent has now been withdrawn by the National Highway Authority after failure of the contractor to keep its consortium intact.
When questioned, one of the senior officers of NHA dealing with the project confirmed that the LOI has been withdrawn as the Power China Chengdu Engineering Corporation Limited was no longer a part of the consortium and they did not verify their credentials, besides repeated requests of the road authority. He explained further as the Power China Chengdu Engineering Corporation Limited was the lead contractor having required qualifications of building motorways, after its cold response the consortium would no longer be technically and legally fit to proceed on this project.
Replying to the fate of the project, he said that NHA would have ultimately construct this motorway but a final decision regarding next step has yet to be taken. He however confirmed that the bank guarantee given by the contractor has been encashed by the road authority. Kharian-Rawalpindi Motorway is a third and final part of the Lahore-Rawalpindi Motorway—a 100km shorter motorway route between Lahore and Islamabad as existing Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M-2) is 375km long but the new route Lahore-Rawalpindi would be around 290km long. It is pertinent to mention here that out of these 290km, a 103km long Lahore-Sialkot Motorway was constructed by Frontier Works Organization and operational while 70km long Sialkot-Kharian Motorway has also been awarded to FWO and work on it is underway.
The NHA’s spokesman Mr. Umair was contacted and also sent written questions but he was unavailable to respond.