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Highway hazards: Is G-B ready for CPEC traffic load?

GILGIT: The high profile CPEC project may be a boon for the country, but if certain corrective measures are not adopted, it may prove to be a bane for residents G-B.

Presently G-B residents of the area have to brave an arduous 20-hour journey from to get to Islamabad via the narrow 600 km Karakoram Highway (KKH).

“It will be a nightmare for travellers,” said Aziz Ahmad, a development expert and a businessman.

“The journey will take twice or thrice as long once CPEC becomes fully operational as traffic will increase manifold and heavy containers will begin to ply the route,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune on Tuesday. “The KKH is narrow and one will not be able to overtake big containers everywhere,” he added.

According to some reporters, at least 7,000 shipping containers will pass through G-B every day via the KKH – a strategic highway that connects Pakistan with China after traversing some 450 km in G-B.

In other words it comes down to a container every ten seconds once CPEC is in full swing.

The heavy container traffic will leave travellers stuck between the convoys.

In a recent meeting with PPP Senator Taj Haider, who recently visited G-B with a delegation, Ahmad said the senator believed it was impossible for the government to make CPEC successful without widening KKH.

Sabir Hussain, another development activist, said more people will die in road accidents if the existing road networks weren’t improved for CPEC convoys.

“I’ll tell you in one year the total casualties of people will be more than the combined casualties of people in sectarian crisis and personal feuds.”

The G-B government hopes thing will improve with the passage of time as Pakistan is committed to make the project successful. “G-B is our priority and the government will definitely pay attention to the roads as well,” G-B government spokesman Faizullah Faraq said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2017.

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