China and Pakistan on Thursday signed an agreement worth $100 million grant assistance for rehabilitation of National Highway (N-5) to improve road infrastructure and expand the North-South connectivity. Under this agreement, Government of China will provide grant assistance of RMB 659.8 million (US $100 million) for repair of four sections (66 kilometres in total)) of National Highway (N-5) between Hala (Matiari district) and Moro district Naushahro Feroze) in Sindh province, said a press release issued by Ministry of Economic Affairs here on Thursday. Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Pakistan Nong Rong called on Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar at his office. During the meeting, a Letter of Exchange (LoE) for “Rehabilitation of Specific Sections of National Highway N-5 Project” was also signed. During the meeting, Pak-China economic relations, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and other matters of mutual interest were discussed. The Minister for Economic Affairs lauded the grant assistance extended by Government of China for various infrastructure and socioeconomic projects in Pakistan. The minister also appreciated the significant work of Joint Working Groups on socioeconomic development and transport infrastructure under CPEC. He highlighted that the socioeconomic projects agreed therein were in line with the vision of PTI government for socioeconomic uplift of the common people and enhanced economic activities in the country. The minister also appreciated the Chinese assistance for combating corona pandemic and locust attack. Both sides also discussed the progress of ongoing projects financed by the Government of China. The ambassador said that the National Highway 5 (N5) was an important road that extends from the south part to the north and west border in Pakistan and carries a large amount of traffic capacity. Unfortunately, this road was badly damaged by the record flood in 2010. At the request of the Pakistani government, the Chinese government helped repairing parts of N-5 and N-55 sections during 2011 and 2016. With the joint efforts by the Pakistani and Chinese workers, the rehabilitation work was completed at the end of 2016, and greatly improved the road conditions of the relevant sections. Considering the importance of the N-5 road, the Chinese government agrees to rehabilitate the remaining 66 kilometers of the N-5 road with Chinese grant in accordance with the previous bilateral agreement. The ambassador added that the new Project of Rehabilitation of N-5 Road was the largest road project funded by Chinese grant in recent years in Pakistan. The implementation of this project will further increase the traffic capacity, while facilitating peoples travel along the route. Construction of the project will also create considerable employment and promote businesses related building materials and transportation sectors along the route. The Chinese Embassy will work closely with EAD and other relevant departments to ensure the project starts at the earliest. He concluded with a Chinese saying, which means “to be rich, build roads first”. He hoped the full function of N-5 road will definitely bring fortune and prosperity to the Pakistani friends. NHA projects: National Highway Authority (NHA) striving for up-gradation of road infrastructure in the country has succeeded to complete several mega projects during the past two years. The major road infrastructure projects accomplished in two years included among others Lahore -Abdul Hakeem Motorway (M-3), Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5) Havelian-Mansehra and Mansehra-Thakot section of Hazara Motorway also called E-35, Gojra-Shorkot and Shorkot-Khanewal section of Pindi Bhattian-Multan Motorway (M-4) and Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (M-11), an official of National Highway Authority (NHA) told APP on Thursday. He said that 230 km Abdul Hakeem Motorway (M-3) which was opened for traffic in March 2019 costing Rs148.65 billion passes through districts of Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh and Khanewal. The cities and towns located along M-3 include Lahore, Sheikhupura, Mangtanwala, Nankana Sahib, Bucheki, Jaranwala, Syedwala, Tandalyanlwala, Samundri, Mamon Kanjan, Muridwala, Toba Tek Singh, Rajana, Kamalia, Peer Mahal, Shorkot and Kot Islam, he said. The NHA official said that in November last year, 392 km Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), an important segment of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, was opened for traffic. The Multan-Sukkur Motorway has reduced travel time between Multan and Sukkur to a considerable extent. The motorway, he said, would not only accelerate industrial growth but the agricultural sector will also be benefited at large and it would pave the way for socioeconomic uplift in south Punjab. Another important road infrastructure project, 39 km Havelian-Mansehra section of the 118-km Havelian-Thakot motorway project was opened for traffic in November 2019, he said. The motorway section reduced the travel time between Islamabad and Mansehra by up to 2.5 hours, he said adding the controlled access motorway, part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would in future serve as main route for the commercial traffic between the two countries.