South Asia

China to give $5.5 billion for Pakistan’s main rail link

As part of the investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

China will provide a whopping $5.5 billion to Pakistan for the expansion and renovation of its main rail link connecting Peshawar and Karachi as part of the investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), media reports said on Friday.

Out of the total cost of $eight billion for the ML-I (Peshawar-Karachi) railway project connecting the country’s north and south, China will provide $5.5 billion in a concessionary loan at an interest rate of less than two per cent, said Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal here after returning from China.

Total costs cross $50 billion

With this loan, the total cost of the CPEC projects, which runs through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, will increase to more than $51.5 billion, Express Tribune reported on Friday.

About 75 per cent of the country’s cargo and passenger traffic passes through the 1,687 km-long Peshawar-Karachi rail line.

Earlier, China had agreed to provide $3.7 billion out of the $46-billion CPEC programme for the ML-I project and “now it has decided to increase its contribution to $5.5 billion,” Mr. Iqbal said.

ADB will give $2.5 million

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) would provide $2.5 billion to cover the remaining cost of the project, he said.

The Peshawar-Lahore section of the ML-I will be built with the ADB loan.

The rail project would be completed in five to six years after which the rail speed would double to 180 kilometres per hour.

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