The capital’s civic agency and a Chinese firm talk at cross purposes at a meeting here on Thursday.
The Chinese state-owned Shandong High-Speed Group expressed its interest in investing in real estate sector especially development of stalled residential sectors. On the other hand, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) seemed interested in seeking investment in the development of road infrastructure and mass-transit projects in the city.
The CDA presented three projects to the representatives of the group, led by its Chairperson Sun Liang at the Board of Investment (BoI) office located at the Prime Minister’s secretariat.
The most important project presented by the CDA is the construction of the 55-kilometre-long monorail from Rawat to the New Islamabad airport.
The urban rail transit system, according to the initial proposal, will pass through the Islamabad Highway and the Kashmir Highway.
The PC-I of the under-construction Islamabad Expressway identifies a 25km long elevated corridor of the monorail from Rawat to Zero Point.
Other details of the project are not yet known, as the CDA has yet to initiate paper work of the project.
“Level of service has continuously fallen on the Islamabad Expressway due to ever increasing traffic movement,” said a senior CDA official, who attended the meeting. Although the work on the expansion of the signal-free corridor is in progress, it would not effectively serve the purpose in the future, he said.
The official said due to unavailability of land it would be impossible to further expand the expressway.
“Construction of urban rail transit system is the only viable option to lesson and address traffic congestion-related issues,” he said.
The CDA has also suggested another road expansion project –- signal-free corridor from Koral Chowk, commonly known as Airport Chowk on Islamabad Highway to Rawat – that was recently abandoned due to funds shortage.
This project was originally part of the Rs21.8 billion Islamabad Highway expansion project inaugurated by the prime minister in July 2015.
But, later due to insufficient funds the scope of work was reduced. The section of work related to expansion from Koral Chowk to Rawat was abandoned.
Now, the CDA presented this leftover and abandoned part of the project to the Chinese company.
The third project is the construction of a bypass at Bhara Kahu for the convenience of tourists travelling to Murree and beyond.
Following the presentation, the Chinese group asked the city managers, if they had any real estate project specifically residential sector development, as the group has real estate on top of its priority list.
“They were more interested in real estate than infrastructure development,” said the CDA official.
However, the CDA did not have any such project to present before the group representatives.
Over the past several years, the CDA has failed to develop stalled residential sectors, it had announced decades ago due to a variety of reasons.
The stalled sectors include E-12, I-15, I-16, I-12, H-16, I-17, C-14, C-15, and C-16.
Last effort to engage a Chinese firm to develop a residential sector, was in the case of I-15, made in June 2012.
The CDA signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of Chinese firms to execute this project but it was later cancelled due to objections raised by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2016.
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