ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China are likely to reach an agreement under which Pakistani companies would be included in joint venture projects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to ensure transparency and benefit Pakistan.

This was revealed by high-ups of National Highway Authority (NHA) while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Communications, which met with Senator Hidayat Ullah in the chair here on Monday.

The parliamentarians raised reservations on Multan-Sukkur Motorway, which comes under the CPEC framework.

Senator Nauman Khattak said that the government of Pakistan has not done effective planning in agreements with China. He said that there are several reservations on Multan-Sukkur Motorway and questions have been submitted to the committee.

The chairman NHA said that the number of firms would be increased in joint venture projects and Pakistani companies would also be included to ensure transparency and earn benefits for the country. He said that matters in this regard would be settled with China very soon.

Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed said the government will introduce e-tendering, e-bidding and e-billing system across the country within 60 days to ensure transparency in implementation of road projects.

He said that third party audit of delayed road projects, whose cost escalated by several times incurring billions of rupees loss to the national exchequer would be conducted. He said that at present inquiry into six projects is underway and cases would be sent to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The inspector general (IG) of National Highways and Motorways Police said that punishments and fines are being awarded under section 86 for violation of traffic rules. Motorway police have issued 26,000 licenses and maintained their database. If provinces share their database, heavy penalties would be slapped on those violating rules regularly. He further said that e-ticketing system would be implemented very soon.

The IG further said that penalty for the first time violation on motorway is Rs 750 and then up to Rs 2,000. It would be better to increase penalty to Rs 5,000 to ensure traffic rules implementations, he proposed.

The committee chairman recommended for increase in motorway police salaries and resolving their vehicles issues to improve their performance.

The committee was further informed that about 40,000 vehicles pass from Hyderabad Toll Plaza, on which Moula Bux Chandio said that two toll plazas at a distance of 3 kilometers are being set up to loot the public. Toll tax is being collected from several years while M-9 does not exist, he added.

On this, the chairman NHA said that M-9 is different from M-2 where 82 petrol pumps and hotels are being set up and a powerful mafia is operating. He assured the committee that toll plaza would be shifted to a distance of 36 kilometers as per the law within 6 weeks.

The minister said that all issues in this regard would be addressed and all agreements would be reviewed.

The committee was further informed that a toll plaza for New Islamabad International Airport has been removed. Furthermore, 56 percent work on the Havilian-Thakot project has been completed. The project was launched in 2016 where 119 km was to be completed in 40 months. It was informed that 43 percent work on Hakla-DI Khan project has been completed and the project would be completed in 2019 with an estimated cost of Rs 110 billion.