Sunday, April 19, 2015

China-aided highway changes life of Pakistanis | 2015-04-20

ISLAMABAD, April 19 (Xinhua) -- "I really love working here for the Chinese company," Abass Ali, a Pakistani employee of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), told Xinhua at a construction site next to a barrier lake that is two hours drive from the northern city of Gilgit.  The ongoing construction work by the CRBC is the last phase of a project undertaken by the Chinese company to renovate a 335-km stretch of the Karakoram Highway, the only overland connection between China and Pakistan at present.  The highway, built with fund from China during 1966-1978, is the only economic lifeline for Pakistan's northern region. Hundreds of Chinese engineers died while building the road.  Ali and two of his brothers have been working for the CRBC since 2008 when the CRBC started to upgrade a section of the highway that became increasingly dilapidated because of poor maintainance.  Salaries from the job at CRBC made it possible for Ali and his brothers each to build their own houses, and allow them to buy a car for their father. Meanwhile, they also use part of the money they received from the Chinese company to support the education of their two younger siblings.  According to Ali, who works as a driver for the CRBC, his two brothers were first hired as general laborers for the company because they were then without any specific skills.