Wednesday, October 11, 2017

CPEC: The making of E35 - the Hazara Expressway

The development of Gwader port at Gwader, Balochistan Pakistan on the Arabian Sea and just short of the famous Strait of Hormuz has been a game changer in the trade between the oil rich countries of the Persian Gulf and the rest of the world far away from the sea waters, specially the People's Republic of China. Thus far, the Chinese shipping lines stretched from the Persian Gulf through the Malacca Strait and thence to the Chinese ports in its South East region. The 2500 kilometers long Gwader-China land link will shorten the existing 10,000 kilometers long sea route for Chinese shipping to almost 1/4th.
For the purpose of the land link between Gwader Port in the south to Chinese border up in the north, a 1,100 kilometer long motorway will be built between the cities of Karachi and Lahore while the Karakorum Highway, between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled. It may be added that the KKH or the Karakorum Highway or simply the N5 was built with the assistance of China from its border to Hassan Abdal near Islamabad in the 1960s through some of the treacherous mountain passes. The entire land link is named CPEC, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The 180 kilometers long E35 is being constructed into seven part that will pass through cities of Haripur, Havelian, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Shinkiari, Battagram, and Thakot in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

The expressway will take another two years from hence to its completion, the first three packages from Burhan Interchange on M1 motorway to Havalian interchange comprising 60 km is expected to be completed towards the end of 2017. The expressway all along passes through mountains and a look at the pace of its construction really shows the massivity of the task. 

While the first three packages pass through a rather friendly landscape and mountains, the Mansehra to Thakot section is likely to face difficulties as the terrain will turn difficult and rugged. However it still requires constructing many long bridges to cover the wide valley streams and rivers.
I came across a video about the making of the first three parts of E35 and was amazed at the work being undertaken to complete the section. The video is dated June 2017 and it seems difficult to keep the timetable requirements met as a lot is still to be done.

Watch the video yourself and see it as an update on the CPEC road link development.

Map | Photos: Screen Shots of video above | Video: Abid Hussain/YouTube
Reference: Wikipedia
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