Railways ML-1 project China to provide $8.2bn soft loan

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal while addressing a news conference after the CPEC 52nd Progress Review meeting held at the Planning Commission has said that China would provide $8.2 billion soft loan to Pakistan for ML-1 railways infrastructure project under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Railways track would be upgraded from Karachi to Peshawar and Peshawar to Landi Kotal. The groundbreaking of the ML-1 railways project is expected in March 2018 and it would be completed in four years in various phases. All the technical matters relating to the project will be settled between Pakistan and China within two to three months. It would be first mega railways project after the establishment of Pakistan,” he said.

After completion of the project, the speed of train will increase from existing 80 kilometres per hour to 160 kilometres per hour. ML-1 railways project would be completed in four years.

He said that Pakistan and China have agreed on two mega projects of infrastructure of western route from Khuzdar to Basima Road (110km) at estimated cost $80 million and from Yarik to Zhob (210km) at estimated cost $195 million. He said that for this purpose financial negotiations are underway between Pakistan and China. He said that in this regard, direction has been issued to National Highway Authority (NHA) to start work for land acquisition to avoid any encroachment in future. He said that in future routes would be extended from two to four lanes.

He said that negotiations are ongoing between Pakistan and China for establishment of industrial zones in various parts of the country. He said that for this purpose, China would conduct road show and “we would discuss opportunities and advantage about economic zones with China.”

Answering to a question, he said that the federal government has completed all phases of procedure with China about Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project under the CPEC. Now, the Sindh government would negotiate with China for settlement of financial matters. “We hope that the government of Sindh would soon settle all financial matters with China to launch the project,” he added.

He said that the inauguration of New Islamabad Airport would be made in March 2018. He said that international experts have been hired to manage the facilities at the airport.