The Sukkur-Multan section of the Pakistan Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (PKM), the largest transport infrastructure under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), was inaugurated on Nov. 5 in Islamabad. The project was undertaken by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Murad Saeed, federal minister for communications of Pakistan, Yao Jing, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Wang Zhihua, economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, Zheng Xuexuan, board director of CSCEC, Sikander Qayum, chairman of the National Highway Authority (NHA) of Pakistan and Mansoor Sirohey, a member of NHA, Shan Hongjun, deputy director general of the Department of International Cooperation of China's Ministry of Transport, and Jiang Juhua, secretary to the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of China.
The motorway is a key project on the Belt and Road and the south-north transport artery of Pakistan. The CSCEC team started constructing it in August 2016 according to an ambitious plan and high standards, and accomplished its construction through high-quality management. Now, it has become a model project of friendly cooperation between China and Pakistan.
Road of wellbeing for win-win cooperation
The Sukkur-Multan section of the motorway starts from Sukkur, Sindh province, in south Pakistan and connects to Multan, Punjab province, in the north. The 392-kilometer motorway has a design speed of 120 kilometers per hour, and is the first bi-directional six-lane motorway with an intelligent transportation function in the country. Its contract value is about US$2.9 billion.
The contract period of the project was 36 months. There are 100 bridges, 468 underpasses, 991 culverts, 11 interchanges, six pairs of service areas, five pairs of rest areas, and 24 toll stations. The motorway was divided into seven sections for simultaneous construction. The CSCEC team imported more than 3,500 sets of large machinery and equipment from China, which ensured a steady progress of the project.
Multan and Sukkur are important cities in Pakistan, and they are now connected by the motorway. Multan is a major area for producing mangoes, dates and other crops, while Sukkur is an important transport hub. The motorway can reduce the commuting time between the two cities from 11 hours to less than four hours, thus expediting the construction of the CPEC and travel between China and Pakistan.
During the construction, the Pakistani government provided huge support for the project in terms of security.
The local temperature often reaches above 40 degrees Celsius. Despite the harsh natural environment, the CSCEC team completed the tasks one after another. On May 26, 2018, the 33-kilometer section of the project opened to traffic 14 months earlier than the contractual deadline. On July 23 this year, the whole project was completed two weeks ahead of schedule.
The NHA gave a thumb up to the CSCEC team, saying that the Sukkur-Multan section is a highway project of the highest standard in Pakistan to date, setting a good example for the construction of the motorway.
Road of science and technology for a trustworthy project
The PKM (Sukkur-Multan Section) project is a high-standard motorway with the highest design grade. It is also the only motorway in Pakistan with trees along the entire road and can resist once-in-a-century floods. Based on the quality assurance and quality control system, a multi-level and all-round quality control network incorporating design and construction was established to build a most advanced intelligent motorway in Pakistan with innovation and ingenuity.
To adapt to the local high temperatures and heavy workloads, a new anti-rutting technological standard of asphalt pavement mixtures was applied, which can withstand the high temperature of 80 degrees Celsius. SBS modified bitumen was applied to ensure the road formation quality. The UAV aerial photogrammetry technology was used in Pakistan for the first time to obtain accurate data. The hydro-physical model was adopted to optimize the design of cross-river bridges. The difficulty in erecting small skew bridges was successfully overcome. For the first time, the deflection testing technology was applied to control the quality of subgrade and pavement. The standard of intelligent transportation system in Pakistan was improved by the entirely electronic and automatic toll system and signal management. The optical cables laid along the entire motorway can transmit real-time surveillance videos and other information to the control center to have a full control of traffic situations and ensure traffic safety.
Qasir, a Pakistan employee of the project, participated in the project's construction from the very beginning. He said, "I'm fully confident with its quality. This motorway we built is a trustworthy quality project. When the employer was carrying out testing for acceptance along the motorway, the testing team unanimously appraised the PKM project as the fastest motorway project of the best quality in Pakistan."
Road of friendship for strengthened people-to-people ties
In implementing the principle of "extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits" of the Belt and Road Initiative, the PKM project attaches great importance to cooperation with local enterprises, including joint development of borrow pits and quarries and renting of equipment locally. Construction materials such as earth and stone, diesel, steel, and cement were all procured locally to drive local industries. During the peak construction period, more than 28,900 local workers, equipment operators, and management personnel were employed.
The CSCEC team also invited a vocational training organization in Karachi to provide standardized training to local employees. Local farmers were trained to become skilled technicians. Dozens of asphalt pavers, road rollers, and dump trucks working on the project were almost exclusively operated by Pakistani employees.
Amar, a commercial consultant of the project, said, "The PKM project has provided us with valuable employment opportunities, and is our second home."
According to him, more than 6,800 local farmers have become skilled equipment operators and project management personnel. "They have become modern engineering and technical personnel in Pakistan," Amar added.
While providing a large number of jobs, the project adhered to the philosophy of "one road, one family" and actively fulfilled its social responsibility, according to the CSCEC team. The team built up 800 kilometers of service roads, 15 bridges, 50 wells, over 200 canals for villages along the motorway. It constructed 920 underpasses and culverts, totaling 40 kilometers in length, to protect local ecology and environment. The team established and renovated schools along the motorway, and organized medical teams to provide free medical services to more than 1,000 villagers. They were also active in emergency and disaster relief and other accident rescues.