LAHORE: The cost of the Lahore Metro Train’s Orange Line is likely to jump up by another Rs3 billion as the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has already committed to offering a pre-casting yard to the new contractor.
The authority had recently re-awarded the project’s contract for Package-II between Chauburji and Ali Town for Rs11.39 billion – at least 15% higher from the previous builder, who failed to meet its contract obligations.
The LDA had committed to providing a yard for pre-casting of U-tub girders, pre-forms and shuttering to the new contractor, as the authority had taken over the pre-casting yard of the previous contractor while cancelling old contract over ‘sluggish’ performance.
However, the court later directed the LDA to refrain from seizing the private property of the previous contractor, putting the authority in an awkward position.
Now the LDA has to bear the cost of the pre-casting yard, which would cost Rs2.5 billion as per the previous contractor’s estimate.
Chaudhry Waseem Afzal, CEO of Package-II contractor ZKB-Reliable Joint Venture, said the previous contractor’s estimates were inflated and the cost of the pre-casting yard was likely to remain below Rs1 billion.
“Our company has already started building a new pre-casting yard to meet the given targets and will bill the LDA separately for its construction as per the agreement,” he maintained.
About the considerably higher contract amount, Afzal admitted the cost was higher than the previous contractor because it was always difficult to restart sick projects.
He pointed out that the previous contractor had completed 98% of the underground and ground civil works that were the easiest and most lucrative portion of the whole package.
“The former contractor has built just 2% of the super structure that requires the most resources and skills,” he claimed. “They built only 16 U-tub girders during 18 months while we have had committed to building the remaining 790 girders in the next five months.”
“We don’t have the luxury of time, which was available for the previous contractor. We have to pre-cast a minimum of six U-tubs to complete the job on time or the entire timeline of the project will be affected,” Afzal lamented.
Orange Line’s Steering Committee Chairman Khawaja Ahmad Hassaan said the LDA was still trying to convince the previous contractor to surrender its pre-casting yard as it was of no use to it after the cancellation of the contract.
“If the government has to pay the cost of a pre-casting yard to the new contractor, we will recover the amount from the former contractor as per the agreement terms,” he added.
The LDA cancelled the previous contract over the ‘sluggish performance’ of the contractor, who also deviated from the given design and specifications provided by the engineering consultant, National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak)
“People always try to hoodwink the system but the government has adopted a foolproof quality assurance and inspection system for the metro train project,” Hassaan said. “The previous contractor attempted to fool the system but Nespak unearthed its malpractices and reinforced the short piles.”
Just last week, the LDA had demanded another Rs2 billion for connecting the metro train with the Lahore railway station and metro bus track through moving walkways and pedestrian bridges.
Original estimates suggested the Orange Line would cost $1.65 billion or Rs165 billion. However, after the inclusion of land acquisition cost, additional works and contingencies, the project is likely to close at Rs200 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2017.