A highway built in northern Pakistan as a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been inaugurated.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) co-financed the Abdal-Havelian Expressway (E35) at a cost of 327 million US dollars.
The ADB provided a loan of 205 million US dollars as part of its flagship National Trade Corridor Highway Investment Program, and the DFID a grant of 121.6 million US dollars.
The 47-kilometer-long segment that was formally opened on Wednesday by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi was completed as scheduled: less than three years.
It is an important section of the CPEC, an infrastructure modernization project that links the two nations.
The highway is the second Motorway project in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Province after the M-1 motorway linking Peshawar to Islamabad.
The motorway comprises 30 bridges and flyovers, 31 underpasses and 157 box culverts.
Over 28,000 vehicles are expected to commute on the Hazara Motorway with a significant reduction in peak hours.
Yang Xiaohong, ADB country director for Pakistan, said: "The expressway will bring cost-effective transportation to millions of people in busy towns and deep valleys along the route.
"It is an important step towards positioning Pakistan as a trading hub between Western and Central Asia by transforming adjoining towns and industrial zones into economic corridors."
The new expressway was considered a missing link in Pakistan's transit route. It will link the northern mountainous region with existing north-south motorways to boost the connectivity within Pakistan and increase trade and commerce with China and Central Asian countries.
Joanna Reid, head of the DFID Pakistan, said: "The expressway will connect Pakistan to its neighbors and important cities like Abbottabad, Haripur, and northern region with the motorway network.
"DFID is pleased to have helped the Government of Pakistan provide better, safer, and faster transport connectivity so women, men, and children can access opportunities, markets, and basic services and develop their local economies."
The new road runs almost parallel to the existing N35 highway, which has encountered roadblocks and safety hazards due to high traffic volume and poor road conditions.
Work on the Karachi-Lahore motorway is progressing at a fast pace.