November 6, 2019
One of the best investments this Country ever made in the ‘90’s was development of the new Motorways in the Punjab. Let’s analyze what it has produced-
- Poverty- Whether it’s the “CPEC” development of roads network, rail links or other transport modes or it’s internally developed, tying city to city and province to province will uplift rural areas and give them access to commerce, trade, emergencies, etc.;
- Commerce – you’ve shrunk the time, eased the availability and given smooth access to farmers and trade from their villages to large towns and cities;
- Mobility- Punjab has become MOBILE. With a maximum travel time of six hours, people can work in one city while their home is in another- very much like cities in USA;
- Transport- network and infrastructure has increased and become better;
- Employment- you’ve created new means of income & employment- whether new buses ply the motorways, staffing these buses or opportunities for shops, outlets, offices, etc. (more on this below*)
- Tourism- you give immediate access to develop internal tourism opportunities (more on this below*). This summer, my brother, sis-in-law and our families drove from Karachi to Nathiagali, in one of the best overland adventures they have had!
*Tourism & self-employment- Local towns, villages and populace on the road network should be helped & encouraged to put up small, clean, 2-3 star lodgings & cottages– the economy of that area is being developed indigenously. Pakistani hospitality is one of the best the world has ever seen (but few can experience it in the face of negative publicity ☹). You don’t need the “Avaris” and the “PCs” & “Serenas” – let it be the “Khan Motel” instead. One, 10 room lodging will give DIRECT income & employment to a family of 5-7 people minimum; they in turn will employ others to help run the show; producers will sell food stuff, cleaning, linen and other items to these lodgings; the benefits go on down-stream and are never ending; and on & on. The ancillary developments that take place are another story all together – shops , retails, malls, organized tours, etc.
There may be no international empirical evidence suggesting an increase in road networks necessarily helps an economy but I see actual, on-the-ground benefits we have gained in Pakistan. If travel time between Karachi and Lahore can be reduced from almost 24 hours to 12 hours, what’s not to like? If a series of motorways links the length and breadth of Pakistan, what’s wrong with that?
(As I post this, the new M7 – Multan to Sukkar- just opened!)