LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has demanded a whopping Rs2 billion to connect the Metro Train’s Orange Line with the railway station and Metro Bus track aimed at establishing a better transit system.
The additional amount would be required to connect the Metro Train track to the Lahore railway station through moving walkways while a pedestrian bridge would be needed to connect with the Lahore Metro Bus service.
Initially the proposal was to adjust the additional amount in the contingency plan but the Punjab Mass-transit Authority (PMA) turned down the suggestion. It proposed the extra amount should be funded through a separate summary of a development scheme.
In a recent project’s progress review meeting, Orange Line Steering Committee Chairman Khawaja Ahmad Hassaan directed the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) and other stakeholders to finalise their proposals for the additional works, including the international standard signage and interior fixtures that could not be envisioned during initial phases.
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He said it would be the last opportunity to ask the government for additional resources for the country’s first metro train.
Hassaan also directed Nespak to complete all designs jobs related to the OLMT Central Station near Mall Road so that work gets under way immediately after the court’s green light.
Nespak officials responded by saying the company was working simultaneously on these design jobs and would try to complete their design before the verdict.
Earlier, the Punjab government had set a deadline of January 31 for the completion of civil works of all elevated stations of the Lahore Metro’s Orange Line track between Dera Gujjaran and Chauburji.
The meeting was informed that contractors have already completed over 59% of the ground civil works of the project, including 74% on Package-I from Dera Gujjran to Chauburji, 44% on Package-II from Chaburji to Ali Town, 60.5% on Package-III and 58% on Package-IV.
Construction activity on the 27-kilometre elevated track is under way at full throttle except for those areas under litigation, including Shalimar Gardens, Budhu Ka Awa, Lakshmi Building, General Post Office (GPO), Supreme Court Registry Building, Aiwan-e-Auqaf, Shah Chiragh Building, Saint Andrew Church, Baba Mauj Darya Shrine, Ghulabi Bagh, Chauburji and Zebunnisa’s Tomb.
Substantial delays are likely in the completion of the Orange Line as construction has been stopped near heritage sites on court orders while the contract of one of the builders was revoked and then re-awarded to another contractor.
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The $1.65-billion, 27-kilometre Orange Line track is part of the metro train network in Lahore that once completed will connect Raiwind Road, Multan Road, McLeod Road, the City railway station and the Grand Trunk Road.
When the project was initiated in October 2015, the government had scheduled the inauguration of the train on December 25, 2017.
In a bid to restrict costs of the train project to $1.6 billion, the province had sought Rs20 billion or roughly $195 million as tax exemption while claiming a similar preferential treatment that is available to the projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
On January 5, the federal government finally approved the subsidy for Punjab government’s pet project while deciding to extend similar tax breaks to rail-based mass transit schemes in the three other provincial capitals as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2017.