By Lt Col (Retd)
Tajammal Raza Butt TI(M)
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
• 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
• Tunnels and other underground structures/works.
• Airfields including their allied structures and
• Civil works of large power generation projects
both thermal as well as hydroelectric.
• Sub-surface drainage works.
• Land reclamation works.
• Maintenance and management of
• 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
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
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
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
14. Ammunition stores at Rawalpindi.
15. Rawalpindi Race Course Park.
16. Water Supply Schemes of Uch, Yazman Mandi and Vihari Air
17. Part of Lowari Tunnel
18. Khushab Scarp
19. Khanpur Dam
20. Housing Societies development works at Lahore, Rawalpindi,
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.