Pakistan is rapidly developing its infrastructure, all throughout the country. A number of large-scale projects have been introduced in the country, primarily under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to facilitate bilateral trade and connectivity. Increased regional connectivity can only be ensured if the country’s own infrastructure is strong enough to support not only local but international travel as well. While CPEC’s Eastern and Western are being developed, alongside are numerous projects by the Government of Pakistan that are connecting the dots between these projects. One such project is Swat Expressway that is facilitating trade and tourism activities.
In this blog, we shall discuss the route map of Swat Expressway and also provide you the latest updates on its development status.
All About Swat Expressway
Swat Expressway is a 81-km four-lane motorway that connects Nowshera to Chakdara in Swat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In the second phase of Swat Motorway, the road is expected to be extended to Fatehpur in the Swat district. This project was launched for construction in November 2016, and was completed for use in May 2018. This highway is also known as M-16 and was basically designed to relieve off traffic from National Highway (NH) 45.
Let’s dissect this highway up close and get a better view of regional connectivity.
Route Map Swat Expressway
Overall, Swat Expressway provides alternate routes for District Swat, Dir Lower, Dir Upper, Shangla, Malakand Agency, Bajaur Agency and other parts of Malakand region. This highway merges into Chakdara Road NH 45 that leads all the way up to Kumrat Valley, one of the highest and most beautiful valleys in Pakistan’s northern areas.
This highway starts from Nowshera at Kernal Sherkhan Toll Plaza at the M-1 Highway. The M-1 motorway is also known as Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway. As it enters KP, it diverges into other roads, one of which is the M-16 highway. A little further down on the intersection of M-1 and N-45, is the Rashakai Interchange, which opens up to CPEC’s Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ). You can easily exit from the Rashakai Toll Plaza and explore this industrial complex to see all the development that’s currently taking place.
The tentative route map for Swat Expressway, according to the government of Pakistan has been inserted below:
(Image Credit: Government of Pakistan Official Facebook Page)
Swat Expressway will comprise six interchanges, namely Chakdara, Palai, Katlang, Bakhshalay, Ismaila and Dobian.
Travelling On Swat Expressway
As you move northwards on Swat Expressway, you’ll come across numerous fresh-water lakes, overlooking snow-capped mountains. The lush-green scenery is dotted by villages and farms. You won’t find any industries along the way, which is the primary reason for why these areas have clean and fresh air.
This zig-zag motorway is at a much higher altitude; however, you can expect an easy drive through it. The highway is fully carpeted and has various places for people to rest up and recover on their journey. The highway is lined with numerous rest places as well, which is a perfect opportunity for families to relax and enjoy the scenery.
As you move ahead towards Chakdara, you’ll cross Swat Motorway Tunnel 2 first and then Swat Motorway Tunnel 1 at Alladand. After crossing these two tunnels, you’ll reach Dheri Alladand after which M-16 divulges into a smaller road on the right of which is revered Thana Chowk Bazar, and left is Khan Palo that reaches all the way to Alladand Amandara. A little farther away is Swat Motorway Toll Plaza which moves into Pul Saokaie which is an intersection of main roads from where N-45 and N-95 spread.
From here Swat River flows and is the main source of irrigation for Matkani Park Tari, a preserved area on the left. This river’s main source of water is the melting of ice on mountains and is at the foothills of the mountain range that spreads all the way to the Karakoram Mountain Range. The last stop on Swat Motorway is Gulabad Chowk, before it dissects into Absanr Road and N-45.
Latest Developments On Swat Expressway
In the first phase of development of Swat Expressway the road was constructed from Nowshera to Chakdara, while in the second phase the link was extended to Fatehpur. The motorway road from Nowshera to Chakdara has been recently repaired as well because ease of access has created an influx of tourists (local and international) to easily access Swat Valley.
Projects such as these are a welcome move as they help facilitate and sustain tourist flow, which is particularly essential for a country like Pakistan where most of the tourism potential remains untapped. Pakistan’s tourism sector has been an isolated sector because of fragmented infrastructural development, throughout the country, especially in the northern areas. However, projects like Swat Motorway are fully capable of completely revolutionizing the tourism sector.
Owing to its significance during the last three years, the government of KP has decided to refer it to be included in CPEC projects, in the next Joint Coordination Committee (JCC). If the project is included in CPEC, it will be one of the numerous projects in the country that pave the way for inter-regional connectivity. With similar projects that increase connectivity for far-off areas in the north, there is bound to be an influx of tourists.
If you are a tourist looking to explore Pakistan’s north, check out these guides: