The initiation of construction work on Airport Chowk Interchange has been facing inordinate delays as capital’s civic agency continues failing to finalise the project design.
The interchange is part of the signal-free controlled-access corridor from Zero Point to Rawat, inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on June 30, 2015.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) awarded a Rs1.74 billion contract for construction of the interchange on February 12, but work on site is yet to start.
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“There were some issues related to the design of the interchange, but the issues have been resolved now,” project director Shahid Mehmood said. Work would be initiated within a week, he added. He said that once work started, it would be completed within eight months. If it goes by the plan, the work on the project would be completed by December this year, the project director said.
The Prime Minister has asked CDA to complete construction before November 2016 as Islamabad is scheduled to host 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. Dignitaries would have to use the road to get to and from Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
Talking to The Express Tribune, CDA Engineering Member Shahid Sohail negated the impression that the project was delayed due to design related issues. He said the civic agency had issued letter of intent to contractor of the project, who would soon begin construction work. It would take not more than six months to complete the interchange project, Sohail said.
A construction firm had filed the lowest bid of Rs1.74 billion for the interchange project against CDA’s own estimated Rs2.4 billion, making the bid almost 24.15 per cent below the National Highway Authority schedule rates and 45 per cent below non-schedule rates.
Due to a shortage of funds and other factors, the federal government has slashed the scope of work on the signal-free corridor by limiting the number of interchanges between Faizabad and Rawat to four.
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The first phase of the project — rehabilitation of road from Zero Point to Faizabad and construction of an interchange at I-8 — has been completed at a cost of Rs1.6 billion.
Under the current plan, interchanges would also be constructed at Sohan-Khanna and Japan Road intersections and on GT Road near Rawat.
Initial estimates suggest that drastic reduction in scope of the project will lower its cost from the approved Rs21.8 billion to around Rs7 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.
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