29 April 2008
Construction of the 809 km Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and China is to start by the end of this year following the completion of a feasibility study, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). The two countries have also now signed an agreement for practical operation of the project.
State-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which completed the study, will lead the design and reconstruction of the highway as the general contractor.
The first phase of the US$ 794 million project involves rebuilding and upgrading 335 km of road between the Raikot Bridge and the Khunjerab mountain pass. This will include widening the highway from 10 to 30 m, increasing its capacity by +300% and making the road suitable for heavy goods vehicles.
It is expected the Chinese Government will provide 90% of the funding, with Pakistan providing the balance, according to APP.
The Karakoram Highway is the only overland connection between China and Pakistan at present. The highway, which is situated between 600 to 4700 m above sea level, was built in 1978. A lack of maintenance and the earthquakes of 2005 have lead to its present state of disrepair.