Swat Expressway-A gateway for tourism promotion in Pakistan

The Swat Expressway is maintained by Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority. It is 81 kilometers long and consists of six lanes. It is an under-construction expressway in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It has two major junctions; one across North ends in Chakdara, Lower District and second across South ends Nowshera. The main purpose to build this highway is to reduce the distance between Nowshera and Chakdara from three hours to one hour. It stretches from Nowshera to Chakdara, passing through Swabi, Mardan and Malakand Districts. This project was launched in August in 2016. The Fronttier Works Organization was given the contract for its construction. This project was expected to complete by the end of 2017 but due to heavy construction it was not made possible.  The Government of Khyber Pakhtaunkhwa was provided with the technical and financial assistance from the neighborhood friend of Pakistan, China and Asian Development Bank. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia promised to provide 3.2 billion rupees or 32 million US dollars. The E90 Expressway (Besham-Khwazakhela Expressway) also terminates in Swat and it’s a separate Expressway other than Swat Expressway. Currently, the total cost for Swat Expressway is 34.165 billion rupees. About 6.865 billion rupees were released for purchase of land and resettlement of people.  The KPK government managed to release only 11.5 billion rupees while the rest were paid by donor agency.  After 25 years of its completion, it will get all of its invested money.

This expressway provides a trouble-free ingress to the unexplored destinations of the country. Hence, it helps to scrutinize the heritage, civilization, agriculture and traditions of a specific area to promote tourism. It will promote social harmony as well. As a result, it generates substantial profits and helps to upgrade the economy of the country.  In Pakistan numerous spell-bound areas exist but put down to poor transportation and absence of roads connectivity to interlink tourist’s point of disembarkation through advance motorways network are the major challenges to promote tourism in Pakistan.

The Swat Expressway helps to connect the unseen treasures of seven districts of KPK full of exquisite. It links Swat, Chitral, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Mohamand and Bajaur districts. Swat Expressway makes a start from Karnal Sher interchange in Swabi District on Peshawar Islamabad Motorway and ends at Chakdar, Dir Lower District. It proceeds from 21 bridges and 1300 meters twin tunnel on National Highway N-45. 

The sod-turning of four-lane 120 kilometers was performed by the Chief Minister, ‘’Pervez Khatak’’ on 25th August, 2016. According to him, it will provide a super fast track communication means to the thousands of travelers for their visit in these areas. The first 51 kilometers Karnal Sher Khan Swabi interchange till Katlang Mardan was made operational for heavy traffic on 21st May, 2018. The second part from Katlang Mardan to Chakdara, Lower Dir has been entered into its final stages. It will be made operational by 25th May, 2019 according to Engr. Barkatullah Khan, the project director of Swat Expressway. He has also confirmed that the KPK government has planned to extend this project up to Mingora Swat. To construct 37 kilometers Chakdara-Mingora section they have made a request to Federal Government to release a grant of 10 billion rupees.

KPK government has also taken an initiative to build 157 inexpensive rest houses for accommodation. Tourism Corporation KP General Manager has directed to ensure the safety of this area by providing police officers.  He has also recommended setting up special counters at Bacha Khan international airport to promote local and foreign tourism in the coming season. In the last year, about three million tourists have visited Malakand and Hazara division and many more are expected to come this year.

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About the Author: Syeda Aelia

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