The National Highway Authority (NHA) during the years
2002 and 2003 has remained proactive and took many bold initiatives to
expand and improve the road network in the country including the
reactivation of M1 project (Islamabad/Peshawar motorway) which remind
suspended for many years because of a prolonged dispute with the
original contractor M/s. Bayinder of Turkey. Besides completing many
projects including M3 (Pindi Bhattian expressway) Kohat Tunnel and Kohat
Link Road ahead of Schedule, the NHA has chalked out an ambitious 7
years (2003-2010) plan for rehabilitation and upgrading of over 2700 KM
of national road network in collaboration of the World Bank.
By any standard these achievements are spectacular.
However, we were surprised to watch a documentary on Ptv — highly
critical of NHA describing the organization as inefficient and
lethargic. As an evidence the pace of work on a relatively small portion
of road — Turnol/Taxila section was highlighted.
It was in this background that we sat with Maj Gen
Farrukh Javed, Chairman NHA for a tete-a-tete. We found Gen Javed,
otherwise a pleasant personality, a hurt man. However, despite our
probing questions, the NHA chief remained unperturbed and vehemently
defended his organization. He contended that no organization,
particularly that which is still in infancy, can climb the stairs of
success without continuity of able leadership and the NHA's baggage of
malaise is mainly due to frequent changes in the Authority's top
hierarchy: nine chairmen within one decade (1991-2001) of NHAs'
Before we could ask any question, chairman NHA
expressed his pent-up feelings as to why we Pakistanis, as a nation, are
confronting so many challenges? Why are we not progressing despite so
much potential and talent and God gifted resources? Lack of discipline,
he thinks, is retarding our forward thrust. The remarks he made in this
regard are reproduced below for the interest of our readers:
Yellow journalism and Punjabi films misrepresenting
our culture have played a very negative role, through sensationalism, in
making this nation whatever it is today, for promoting short-term
selfish interest, unfortunately, that's how our human resource has been
developed for which we must bear now the consequences. Why we did not
bother to correct our shortcomings and systems during the last 56 years?
Who stopped us? We have remained in a state of inertia for half a
century and now everybody is out to take anyone on the charge! This is
not fair and this tendency is manifestation of lack of discipline in our
society, in our culture and in our person. We must analyze the situation
first objectively and only then pass comments or our own situation first
on someone else's performance, domain or responsibility.
Continuing he said constructive criticism is not
always the aim, most of the times, the aim is only to pull rug out of
the feet of one at the receiving end. In this scenario no body is
willing to assume responsibility by taking decisions. Individuals at
various decision-making tiers now lack the will and the courage to take
decisions. Decisions directing towards progress and prosperity and, if
anyone dares to do so, everybody tries to detect some foul play out of
its, which may or may not be the case.
How would you compare today's NHA with that of 10 years ago? Is there
any mechanism within NHA for rectification and improvement?
Organizations are corrected and put on track through an evolutionary
and not a revolutionary process. Quality and out put of an organization
depends upon the quality and out put of its manpower. Better the
manpower the better would be the out put. I personally feel handling of
human beings is the most difficult thing to deal with. As Chairman NHA,
I have to perform the role of a commander and lead from the front.
NHA was created in 1991 and I took over its charge in
November 2001 viz after about nine years of its inception. Relatively
speaking it's a young organization. If you look at these nine years, I
am the ninth chairman. This clearly suggests that there is lack of
continuity, a factor which is of utmost importance for success in any
field, particularly as challenging as a road construction organization,
as road projects particularly national highways are linear in nature and
one single project could encompass hundreds of kilometers.
What you have done since you assumed office?
CHAIRMAN NHA: Look
at the ongoing (sick) projects of the past that inherited. Islamabad-Murree
Dual Carriageway (IMDC) commenced in 1993 and still continues. When I
took over command of NHA, in November 2001, only 16% work was completed
in eight years. The project is now more than 46% complete. Thus progress
during the last twenty two months is almost double that was managed in
Another project. Mansehra-Naran-Jhalkhand also
commenced in 1993 and still goes on. It is now 80% complete and the
balance 20% will be completed within the next few months. The
Jhalkhand-Chillas section, which is kind of bypass to Karakoram Highway,
will be completed in the subsequent phase. This road would definitely
help promote tourism.
Commenced in 1993, the Hala-Moro (N-5) dualization
project was also lingering on despite stable terrain at a snails pace.
In November 2001, it was only 63% complete; the remaining 37% was
completed within ten months. Another dualization project of N-5 (Nowshera-Chablat)
also commenced in 1993 and, in November 2001, the progress achieved was
only 47%. During the last twenty-two months, we have been able to
achieve another 40% progress and the project is now nearing completion.
The Khairabad Bridge on River Indus, a component of this project, has
already been completed and is ready for inauguration by the Prime
The Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway (M-1) project was
also first started in 1993 and still goes on. This project has now been
awarded to a consortium of local companies viz Pakistan Motorway
Contractors — joint venture, of 11 contractors. Look at the advantages
of awarding such mega undertakings to our own people. The JV will create
an environment where our local firms could learn to work together — a
distant possibility in the past. The project will also give them
confidence to compete with international firms for seeking contracts
Recently, PTV aired a documentary on M-1 (probably a
sponsored one). I can say without an iota of doubt that this documentary
pictured a totally one-sided story and that too without keeping in
perspective the real facts. Technically speaking, M-1 is supposed to be
completed by January 2007. This is a 4-year endeavor (2003-2007).
However considering the importance of this road vis-a-vis the economic
needs of the country and safety and convenience of the people, NHA is
endeavoring completion of two priority sections well ahead of schedule
despite the fact that rains this year were above normal and numerous
Our aim is to complete the Islamabad-Burhan Section
(37 KM) by around end December, so that this section opens up and
facilitates traffic between Islamabad-Peshawar to quite a reasonable
extent. Second portion that we want to commission on priority is
Rashakai-Charsadda (23 KM) also by around end December Insha Allah. Out
of the total length of M-1, which, is as per contract, is 148.5 KM, if
you complete by December or January 60 KM, I personally feel it is quite
a bit of job. The remaining portions would, thereafter, be completed
with similar zeal.
We have already paid about Rs 1.4 billion to the
affectees of M-1 that is to companies and individuals who suffered for
the past almost three years. We have taken certain risks. We are paying
to the people who were not paid for the services rendered by them and
deserted by the erstwhile contractor (Bayinder).
This is the real situation of M-1 and instead of
giving a doomsday scenario and creating apathy in the society and in the
organization, by showing documentaries that create negative impression
of a vibrant organization, and giving comments which you shouldn't as
you are not a technical man, I feel you are neither doing any good to
that body nor the general public. You are only sapping the morale of
that organization! I am an engineer; you are a journalist, so you should
be giving your opinion as a journalist and I should be rendering mine as
a professional engineer.
We have completed the Kohat Tunnel before time. We
have done PindiBhattian-Faisalabad Motorway (M-3) before time. We have
completed the Kohat Link Road two months earlier. We have completed the
Lyari-Ormara Section (243 KM) 17 days prior to the deadline. We have
done Baleli Bridge in Quetta before time. Ghaggar Bridge towards Thatha
from Karachi (N-5) shall also be completed before time.
This is the performance of NHA now. It is not that
the employees of NHA are bad; the fact is that they were improperly
handled in the past. NHA was subjected to political influences and
inductions and contracts were also awarded on political expediencies. I
think now is the time to support and encourage the able planners and
skilled employees of NHA instead of discouraging them through negative
reports and documentaries.
Why such a delay in completion of Tarnol-Taxila project?
I agree there are problems on this section. Let me first tell you
that this project is to be completed by end December. It needs to be
appreciated that I had to utilize the existing infrastructure and also
at the same time keep the traffic, which is extremely heavy, moving at
all times. If I had the option, I would have first made a new road and
then taken up the old one. I have to do with the resources and the funds
available. And then look at the technology you have got. Moreover, not
all the contractors and the consultants possess the same skill and
ability. In this case, people who cannot take decisions, clinched the
work on open competitive bidding. For a small decision I have to go to
the site personally.
What are NHA's main priorities?
Right now our centre of gravity and pivotal point lies at Gwadar. The
next priority is rehabilitation and upgradation of our National Highway
(N-5) popularly known as the GT Road from Karachi to Torkham. These are
two equal priority projects for NHA. Then we have Indus Highway (N-55)
that starts from Peshawar passes through Kohat Tunnel, reaches DG Khan
via Bannu and then heads for Larkana and Jamshoro and gets connected to
the Super Highway.
We have obtained loan from World Bank for N-55 to the
tune of about US$ 260 million. We would upgrade and improve more than
800 KM of this road within the next four years. Then we would spend some
more money through toll revenue and bring the total to Rs 32 billion for
national highway rehabilitation program. In seven years time, we will
put GT Road in absolutely A-one condition.
We have since finalized a programme of Rs 6.67
billion with the Asian Development Bank. The PC-I of this road between
Kalat, Quetta, and Chaman has been approved. This road, known as the RCD
Highway, is our Central Asian link and we want to do it as early as
possible. From Khuzdar, which falls on N-25, we will create a link to
Gwadar and another to N-55 totaling about 800 KM to be called M-8. It
will further develop to Shahdadkot area and Sukkur. The Makran Coastal
Highway another vital link between Gwadar and Karachi will also be
completed in early 2005.
We are also developing all inter-provincial links.
Work on Sukkur-Sibi Road (N-65), linking Sindh with Balochistan, is
progressing rapidly. Multan-DO Khan-Loralai Road (N-70), which links
Balochistan with Punjab, is also in progress and then the work on Dl
Khan-Kuchlac Road (N-50), which links Balochistan with NWFP, is also
going on rapidly.
By 2007-08 we should be in a fairly comfortable
position as far as our major links are concerned. N-55 will be upgraded,
Kalat-Quetta road will be completed, the Coastal Highway will also be
completed and then our key Gwadar-Sukkur Road (M-8) will also be
considerably developed and opened for trade purposes.
Through these developed links, trans-shipment,
transit-trade and development of value added industry would also come up
as communications infrastructure plays a vital role in economic
development. Inter-provincial roads link people of the same country
living in remote areas with main economic centers. I call these links as
'piar ki karian.' And we have to link all areas of this country with
these bonds of love.