By Our Correspondent
HUNZA: Chinese construction firms have started work on widening and expansion of the 335km Karakoram Highway (KKH) from Khunjerab to Raikot.
Initially, work been started in Hunza section by the firms after they established four camps at different locations from Khunjerab to Nasirabad. The setting up of camps in Nagar and other parts of Gilgit is in process.
The main secretariat has been established at Gulmit, some 40km north of Aliabad, Hunza. The $510 million project is expected to be completed by 2011.
Heavy construction machinery with about 300 labourers and engineers from China has reached Hunza. The collapse of the main bridge on KKH has, however, created problems in moving heavy machinery to Gilgit.
The expansion work on the highway was inaugurated by former President Pervez Musharraf last year. The project was delayed after the Chinese engineers left the country due to security reasons last year. Special police force has been developed to ensure security of the workers.
According to officials, the project would improve snow galleries, 27 bridges, and 480m long tunnels, 18 open-cut tunnels (1,975m), besides constructing 1,050 culverts, five aqueducts and retaining walls.
The KKH after expansion is expected to serve as a trade corridor not only with China but also with the Central Asian republics.