Punjab project: Lahore rapid transit scheme being revived

Published: May 12, 2011

Beijing assures Sharif of assistance, investment.

LAHROE: 

After shelving the monorail-based mass transit system, the Punjab government intends to re-open the Lahore Rapid Mass Transit System (LRMTS).

The policy shift came after Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, was assured by the Chinese government and investors during his recent visit to China that they would invest in the LRMTS project, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Back in 2005, the Transport Department had carried out a feasibility study to develop a mass transit network in Lahore.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided Rs1 billion in July 2007 for a study for the project.

The construction was expected to start by June 2008. If all went well the civil works would be completed by the end of 2010. The 97-kilometre rail network was to be bounded in the east by Gajjumata and to the west by Shahdara station.

The Transport Department commissioned an international company, SYSTRA, to conduct the feasibility report and outline an engineering design.

The company was paid a large sum of money for this job. According to an FIR registered, officials embezzled a total of Rs400 million during this period. The project, however, was later shelved as the Punjab government said they first needed to scrutinise the corruption and only then could they analyse its reconstruction.

In the 2010-2011 financial budget, the Punjab government allocated Rs5.2 billion for the project.

However, following the historic flood and re-appropriation in its wake the project was shelved again.

In June 2010, a delegation of M/s SCOMI international, Malaysia Project Support Service Asia (PSSA) called on the chief minister and gave a presentation on the monorail-based Mass Transit System along Ferozepur Road.

The CM asked the delegation to get back to him with a detailed proposal, supported by a financial plan.

In January this year, SCOMI representatives made another presentation for the entire 97-kilometre project. It proposed an agreement on design-construct-operate-and-transfer (DCOT) basis.

They informed the CM that the project would cost $1.15 billion.

M/s COPICARD, a USA-based consortium offered to finance the project’s infrastructure. The rolling stock would be provided by SCOMI. The Project Support Service Asia would also select an operator to run the system. The project could be launched within three months, and completed in 36 months.

For its part, the consortium demanded three assurances from the Punjab government: the timely provision of land, sovereign guarantee to secure the project finance and the number of riders as projected in the feasibility study.

While addressing a press conference at the 7-Club Road, the chief minister disclosed that an agreement had been signed between the Punjab government and the Chinese government for the LRMTS project to be completed at a cost of $1.7 billion. He said that work on the mega project would begin this year and would be completed in a cost-effective manner.

Now, the Punjab government has once again changed its plans, owing to lack of efficient planning and its, failure to win the confidence of foreign investors, an official said.

The shift in policy was made without estimating its cost and repercussions on the government’s working and image. The government should hold all concerned officials responsible for this failure and take action against them, the official added.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2011.

Reader Comments (7)

  • A Suhail
    May 12, 2011 - 11:25AM

    Finally, an intelligent move by Mr Sharif. Instead of spending billions on over and under passes this project will provide relief to so many Lahori;s who can not afford a car or a bike. I hope no more moves by vested elements to stall this project. Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    May 12, 2011 - 1:36PM

    I hope it does not turns out to be “A Rapid Exit Plan” because things are not moving in right director due to all focus on only Lahore. Sir, you must understand that there are other cities in south which needs more intention. Lahore is part of Punjab and not Punjab part of Lahore.Recommend

  • noor
    May 12, 2011 - 2:50PM

    I agree, rather say that even people with cars & bike will make use of such a project.
    BTW, what happened to the previous planning, as per 2005 plan, 2 out of 4 lines were to be completed in 2011 & 2013.
    Is it because Sharifs wanted to have their name plaque on the foundation stone that the earlier project was shelved?Recommend

  • Z Khan
    May 12, 2011 - 2:51PM

    The last two paragraphs make the whole story confusing! Is the plan on or has it been shelved again?Recommend

  • Shahnoor Qamar
    May 12, 2011 - 9:33PM

    It is better to repair ten thousand small roads-lanes than build flyover before the forthcoming elections near at hand(vote getter).Recommend

  • Umair Mallick
    May 13, 2011 - 3:04AM

    Corruption plagued rulers, politicians, establishment (don’t forget police) have outgrown religion struck uneducated low socio economic class and criminal elements of the society. These rulers are simply playing with public money looting them to their best and still followed by the same people they loot. Media is just incompetently reporting whatever and whenever they can find. What is wrong with this society? How many times will they make and break these plans? Shame on these people.Recommend

  • Naima Iftikhar
    May 13, 2011 - 11:09PM

    This project has been proposed alot of times but it has been always been afflicted by the Govt. cjange or other reasons of inadequacy. Its a rightful agreement that saves the Punjab Govt, on spending over faulty underpasses and overpasses along the canal – this will help produce a green future for Lahore with long term consequences of a better City better Life. All we need to do is build back sensible and efficient means to encourage safe, fast and efficient public transport to let ease the carbonfootprint as well as bring in long term reforms beneficial for future concerns of the way the city grows and functions.Recommend

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