The China Road and Bridge Corp., a state-owned construction firm, has singed a memo with the Pakistani highway administration to initiate the renovation project of the Karakoram Highway.
Sources with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said Saturday that the memo, signed on June 30, paves the way for practical operation of the project.
According to the memo, the China Road and Bridge Corp. will be in charge of the design and reconstruction of the highway as the general contractor. At the first stage, the 335-kilometer road between the Raikot bridge to the Khunjerab mountain pass will be rebuilt and upgraded.
The two sides agreed to complete the drawing of the blue print, listing the work items and signing commercial contracts by the end of October, and try to start working by the end of the year.
The Karakoram Highway is the only overland connection between China and Pakistan at present. The 809-kilometer highway, whose location is 600 to 4,700 meters above sea level, was built in 1978 for special geopolitical reasons. It is largely broken due to lack of maintenance and the earthquake in late 2005.
During Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf's visit to China in February, the two sides reached an agreement in principle to upgrade the Karakoram Highway.
According to the SASAC sources, width of the highway will be expanded from 10 meters to 30 meters, and its transport capacity will be enhanced three times. Heavy-laden vehicles will be able to run on the road after the upgradation.
(Xinhua News Agency July 9, 2006)