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Company Profile

FWO- The Civil Engineering Juggernaut

By Lt Col (Retd) Tajammal Raza Butt TI(M)
Dec 17 - 30 , 2001

Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) owes its birth to the conception of one of the most ambitious project undertaken by Pakistan. In the late fifties Pakistan Army's Corps of Engineers was assigned the task of linking Gilgit with Rawalpindi by road through the Indus Valley and thus preliminary work on Indus Valley Road (IVR) commenced. After 1965 Indo-Pak war, the geopolitical compulsions necessitated establishment of a strategic road link between Pakistan and China. The two governments, therefore, decided to extend the under construction IVR to China through Khunjrab Pass.

The task of construction of this highway of international specifications was so gigantic and formidable that no agency in Pakistan could execute the job. Pakistan Army's Corps of Engineers, therefore, raised a special organization to undertake this enormous and formidable task i.e. on 31st October 1966 to construct the Karakoram Highway.

The stupendous task of chiseling across the mighty mountain ranges of Karakoram was accepted as a challenge with zeal and determination by the engineers of FWO. The project was unprecedented in the history of Pakistan and required tremendous technical skill in various fields like geology survey, concrete/masonry works and their designing, use of explosives, development of drilling and blasting techniques, besides administrative and logistic problems of a large work force of 15000 personnel spread over an inhospitable and harsh terrain for over 800 Km.

FWO succeeded in its challenge and completed the Herculean task in 1978 after tremendous sacrifices. More than 400 soldiers laid down their lives with over 1000 sustaining disabling injuries in their quest to achieve this national objective The event was hailed by the nation and was acclaimed internationally as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Towards the completion stages of Karakoram Highway, the Government realizing the enormous potential of FWO in carrying out civil engineering projects in mountainous terrain and hazardous environment, decided to keep this organisation intact with the aim of undertaking other such national development projects. In consonance with this government policy FWO was then entrusted with the construction of roads in Northern Areas of Gilgit, Skardu, Chitral as well as in Azad Kashmir and Balochistan.

Having established its credentials, FWO forged ahead with confidence, by diversifying its operations to other sectors of civil engineering. Its reputation for undertaking the impossible enabled it to acquire projects which no other construction organisation would bid for. It also began competing in the open market for all types of civil engineering works.

FWO has now mastered its skills and has ventured into the domain of major international construction companies by undertaking highly prestigious and technically advanced projects in the field of Thermal and Hydroelectric power, Drainage networks, Canals, Dams, Tunneling, Highways and Airfields.


FWO is headed by a Director General (Major General) and has four field groups, which are headed by Brigadiers and are located at Mansehra (NWFP), Rawalpindi and Multan (Punjab) and Karachi (Sindh). The groups have sufficient engineer and supporting units/complement to look afterall four provinces of Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas. Headquarters FWO has a Deputy Director General and five directors with sufficient officers/staff, heading Plans, Operations, Finance, Logistics and Project Management Directorates and look after the projects being executed by FWO.

FWO has a highly flexible organisational structure that enables it to undertake varied civil engineering projects in different, diverse and inhospitable areas at extremely short notice. Employing nearly 12000 personnel, the main work component of FWO is organised into construction units and construction teams of varying strength. These units and teams are self contained in all respects and are capable of working independently on any civil engineering project. The construction units are employed on large scale projects whereas construction teams take up medium and small scale works. In addition, FWO has integral quarrying and carpeting units.

While planning, design, quality control, logistics and financial control functions are exercised centrally by Headquarters FWO located at Rawalpindi, the execution of works is decentralized through Group Headquarters and Sector Headquarters. The inherent flexibility in the organization enables it to group and locate different units and teams under Group or Sector Headquarters respectively to undertake different projects at multiple locations.


An Organisation is a representation of the cumulative efforts and qualities of its employees. FWO being a specialised civil engineering organization represent the best in field of civil engineering. FWO can rightly boast the possession of the largest force of engineers, held by any construction organization in the country. These cover all disciplines of Civil Engineering, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and Communication Engineering. In addition to uniformed personnel it employs a large number of civilians in different tiers of its work force.

In addition, FWO holds a very large number of middle and lower level qualified personnel having diplomas and vast experience in their respective fields of specialization. The command structure comprising Army officers has additional qualifications in administration and management of men and projects with dexterity to extract the best out of the available resources.


FWO has come a long way from the road construction organisation that it was raised to be. Today, its name is synonymous with quality and speed. A self financing organisation, it is capable of undertaking any type of civil engineering projects on turnkey basis from planning, designing, construction to even operating the project if required. Over the period, FWO has achieved specialization in following fields of civil engineering works:

Highways with international specifications, especially in difficult and mountainous areas.

Roads/tracks of all types under all terrain conditions.

Civil works of large projects involving mass concreting such as concrete structures for dams, canals and drains.

Projects involving large quantities of rock cutting, control and cautious blasting, earth excavation and compaction.

Tunnels and other underground structures/works.

Airfields including their allied structures and buildings.

Civil works of large power generation projects both thermal as well as hydroelectric.

Sub-surface drainage works.

Land reclamation works.

Maintenance and management of motorways/highways.

Large earthwork projects like, earth fill dams & flood protection embankments.

Planning design & quality control

The project execution units of FWO are backed by modern planning, design and survey system utilizing computer aided design technology. It has qualified and experienced design teams in the field of structures, architecture, roads, airfields, town planning including internal and external services, field investigations, engineering surveys and geo-technical surveys. An integrated system of geo-tech and field laboratories ensures quality control at all stages of the project execution. The identification, evaluation, tendering and securing new projects is part of the responsibilities of Plans Directorate, which is staffed by highly qualified personnel in these fields. In addition FWO has the back-up support of Directorate of Design and Consultancy of Engineer-in-Chief's Branch Pakistan Army for any additional design requirements.

Plant and equipment

Reliable state-of-the-art modern equipment is the backbone of any construction organisation. FWO has a huge quantity of the most modern plant, equipment and machinery, which can dwarf any other civil engineering organisation of Pakistan in this field. We can say, without fear of contradiction, that Frontier Works Organisation has the largest inventory of such plant and equipment in the country which is spread all our Pakistan. It includes plant machinery and all types of equipment categorized as under which are held in large number on FWO's inventory:

a. Earth Moving Plant: It includes large inventory of plant like Dozers (different types and sizes), Motor Graders, Front End Loaders, Excavators, Backhoes and Drag Lines.

b. Compaction Equipment: It includes different types of rollers like Plane three wheel, Pneumatic, Sheep foot, Tandem and walk behind rollers in both normal and vibration version. FWO also possesses a large number of Plate Compactors for working in restricted and smaller work sites.

c. Dumping Equipment: These include huge quantities of Dump trucks of upto 32 ton capacity, Tractors and trolleys.

d. Premix Carpeting Equipment: It includes number of Asphalt Batching Plants (Both static and mobile), Asphalt Mixers, Asphalt Pavers, Bitumen Distributors, Aggregate Spreaders, Bitumen Heaters, Stone Crushers, Asphalt Concrete Cutters, Aggregate Mixing Machines, Asphalt Finishers and Boom Sweepers and part of this equipment.

e. Hard Rock Excavation Equipment: Under this category Plan/Machinery like Air Compressors, Crawler Mounted heavy drill machines, light drill machines and Blasting machines are included. FWO holds a large number of this plant on its inventory.

f. Concrete Work Equipment: This includes equipment like Concrete Batching plants, Concrete Mixers, Concrete Pumps, Transit Mixers, Concrete Finishers, Short Crete Machines, Grouting Pumps, Concrete Vibrators, Concrete Breakers, Grinders, Gravel Trailers, Gravel Washing Machines, Joint Filling Machines and Block Making Machines.

g. Specialised Machinery: This group includes Snow Ploughs, Special K-Span Equipment for making portable sheds, Fire Crash Tenders, Workshop Lorries, Drain Trenching Machines and Drain Flushing Machines.

h. Transport Capabilities: FWO has a phenomenal capacity for transportation of men and material. The equipment held includes Aircraft, Helicopters, Prime Movers, Semi Trailers, Flat Body Transporters, 5 to 10 ton trucks with trailers, Water Bowzers, Fuel Bowzers, Cranes, Breakdowns, Buses/Coasters, Cars, Jeeps, Pickups, Vans, Ambulances, Motor Cycles and Fork Lifters.

j. Miscellaneous: This category includes equipment like Cold Storage Units, Refrigeration Vans, Weaving Plants, Battery Charging Sets, Lighting Sets, Generating Sets, Mobile Flood Lights., Saw Machines, Water Pumps, Electric Motors and Out Board Motors for boats.

From the above inventory of plant/equipment/machinery FWO's richness in its capacity to execute varied civil engineering tasks can well be appreciated. This clearly places FWO well above all other civil engineering organisation in the country.


FWO has an extremely efficient network of workshops for repair and maintenance of transport/plant/equipment/machinery at unit level which is backed up by main base workshops at Rawalpindi. The unit level workshops are equipped fully to do the normal maintenance and field repair to all types of equipment and machinery whereas base workshop can undertake major jobs like engine overhauling etc. All these workshops have large inventory of spares for the equipment in use, supported by adequate funds to readily procure the required items so that time is not wasted in carrying out the repairs.

Procurement of new equipment: Replenishment and additions to the equipment inventory of FWO is an on going process. HQ FWO is constantly engaged in evaluating new plant, machinery and equipment for induction in FWO. A large data bank of different plant machinery and equipment pieces has been created which is regularly updated to keep abreast with the latest development in this field. The Equipment procurement branch of FWO make available the required equipment at a very short notice from its reserve resources.

Projects: FWO was initially engaged in road construction projects only but with the passage of time FWO has diversified its work and is now engaged in all types of civil engineering projects throughout Pakistan. During its 35 years of existence FWO has completed projects worth more than Rs.30 billion. If this amount is converted to today's rate the value can be at least four times the figure. The projects executed include Roads, Airfields, Rock/Earthwork, Canals, Hydro-electric/Thermal Powers Works, Building/ Accommodation Works, Parks, Bridges, Water Supply, Tunnels, Drainage Works, Dams, Marine Structures and Housing Societies development projects. Some major projects completed by FWO during the last thirty five years are.

1. Karakoram Highway,
2. Road Havalian Thakot,
3. Road Gilgit Skardu,
4. Road Ratodero-Ghauspur,
5. Road; Chakdara-Chitral,
6. Lahore City Roads,
7. Road Barian-Nathia Gali-Abbotabad,
8. Additional Carriageway Baberlo Ghotki,
9. Roads in Defence Officers Housing Authority Karachi,
10. Runways at Pano Aqil, Vehari, Sargodha, Rajanpur, Skardu, Mianwali, Kamra, Risalpur and Bhagtanwala,
11. Nusrat Loop Bund.
12. Lining of Sadiq and Abbasia feeders
13. Civil Works of Thermal Power stations at Jamshoro, Muzaffargarh and Civil Works of Mangla Hydroelectric station unit 9 and 10
14. Ammunition stores at Rawalpindi.
15. Rawalpindi Race Course Park.
16. Water Supply Schemes of Uch, Yazman Mandi and Vihari Air base.
17. Part of Lowari Tunnel
18. Khushab Scarp
19. Khanpur Dam
20. Housing Societies development works at Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi
21. City development projects in Rawalpifndi, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Lahore, Multan, Bhawalpur and Karachi.

Currently FWO is executing different civil engineering projects all over Pakistan estimated at Rsi 25 Billion and they include projects like

1. Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road
2. Faisalabad Roads
3. Bund Road Lahore
4. Lahore Roads Rehabilitation Project
5. Makran Coasta Highway
6. Road Dera Allahyar-Sibi
7. Road Ratodero Shahdad kot
8. Indus Links 1 & 2
9. Dera Ismail Khan-Mughalkot Road
10. Road Rahimyar Khan-Tiranda Mohammad Panah

The list of projects given above are only few of the major projects executed/ being executed by FWO as limitation of space prohibits listing of all the projects completed and under execution by FWO.

In August 2001 President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf performed ground-breaking ceremonies for a number of projects all over Pakistan. These included Road Gawadar-Pasni in Balochistan, Gomal Zam Dam and Malakand Hydro Electric project in NWFP and a number of roads in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. A major portion of these works have been awarded to FWO for execution which shows the confidence which government has in this premier civil engineering organization of Pakistan.

FWO is conscious of the responsibility given to it by the government and we all pray to Almighty Allah to give FWO the strength to fulfil the confidence reposed in it with continued determination to maintain high standards established by FWO in various fields of specialization in civil engineering.