ISLAMABAD: Delay in the launch of work on the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway, a project included in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) since 1916, has created anger not only in Chitral but also among the people of Lower and Upper Dir districts.
The issue emerged after the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) on July 16 approved Swat Motorway Phase-2 at a cost of Rs20 billion.
This showed the government’s lack of interest in launching the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway project which had been approved by ECNEC in 2016. The PTI government has now decided to go ahead with the construction of the phase II of Swat Motorway instead.
Under the newly approved project, a four-lane 80-km-long motorway will be constructed from Chakdara to Fatehpur in Swat.
Another mega project approved by ECNEC is Khyber Pass Economic Corridor which will be constructed with the financial support of the World Bank and would cost an estimated $460 million. Under this project, a four-lane, 48 kilometre-long highway would be constructed from Peshawar to Khyber Pass.
Social media users launched a campaign asking the government to restore Chakdara-Chitral Expressway project.
They said the vital expressway, also to be used as an alternative CPEC route was of national importance but the PTI leaders, especially KP Chief Minister Memhood Khan and Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, were hell-bent on diverting the funds to the Swat Motorway Phase 2 project which would serve to their area only.
Meanwhile, political leaders from Lower and Upper Dir warned that they would hold a long march to Islamabad if the government did not launch the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway project.