CPEC: Bounced cheque stalls road projects in Pakistan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the over $50-billion mega project being built with Chinese money, is reported to be stuck with several road projects in Pakistan finding no finances to proceed.

Pakistan’s National Highway Authority has no money to pay contractors engaged in road projects, which, once completed, would link China’s Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan, allowing Beijing access to the Arabian Sea.
A report in the Pakistani daily Dawn said contractors have stopped work on several CPEC projects after their cheques worth over Rs500 crore bounced a couple of days ago as the country’s National Highway Authority (NHA) is in a financial crisis.
The reports, however, said it was for the first time that CPEC projects faced such a financial crisis.
Reports said work on seven portions covering 400-km on the Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan on the CPEC, the Western Route of CPEC and all sections of the Karachi-Lahore Motorway (KLM) are hit by the financial crunch.
The delay in project work has affected local industries related to construction and a large workforce of engineers and labourers .
Reports quoting NHA spokesman Kashif Zaman said the authority issued cheques for Rs500 crore on 29 June to contractors after the government sanctioned payments. However, only cheques worth Rs1.5 million could be cleared on the same day, while “the remaining cheques that were deposited the next day could not be cleared.”
Zaman hopes the matter to be resolved soon.
On the project work Zaman said, “The progress on the project had not been affected. Same is true for Hazara Motorway and other sections.” He said most of the projects in question would be completed by December 2018. Despite the official denial, it was feared that the CPEC projects would be delayed further if the situation persists, the report said.
The CPEC passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. It connects Kashgar in western China with Gwadar port in Pakistan, spanning 3,000 km.