The provincial government has saved over Rs69 billion on the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project by negotiating well with the Chinese. But a handful of the city’s elite are engaged in creating hurdles and have been conspiring to halt a public welfare project of great significance, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday.
Sharif made these remarks while addressing a seminar on the project at the Expo Centre on Tuesday. Initially, he claimed, the project was estimated to cost $2.13 billion but the government had managed to bring this down to $1.47 billion. The provincial government asked the Chinese to sublet the project’s civil works to Pakistani companies which they had estimated to cost Rs55 billion, the chief minister said. The provincial government further reduced this to Rs49 billion by making local engineering companies bid, he said.
“You will not find a similar example (here) in Pakistan, India or any other country where the government saved this much money in connection with such projects. I will change my name if someone can find such an example in the nation’s 68-year-long history,” Sharif said.
He warned the city’s elite to cease its agitation and desist from impeding the project. “Those who are (creating) stumbling blocks using the pretext of heritage have never visited the sites. They have no stake in the country. Their children are studying abroad. They vacation in foreign countries. But they are trying to stop a public welfare project,” he said.
Sharif said he would launch a campaign against them along with the people of Lahore if they did not budge on this account. He emphasised that the government was ready to pay any price or go to great lengths to have the project completed. Sharif expressed hope that the courts would dispense justice and quickly resolve cases related to the project to ensure its timely competition. This, he said, was so as the government was incurring a roundabout loss of Rs60 million per day for every day the project was delayed by.
After a long time, Pakistan has gotten a chance to transform its fate courtesy the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Sharif said. He said energy projects worth over $36 billion were being executed in connection with the CPEC. The chief minister called on the people to extend their support to the CPEC and the OLMT project.
Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Director General Ahad Khan Cheema, Adviser to the Chief Minister Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan and other senior public functionaries were also present on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2016.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ