LAHORE: The underpass formerly known as Chubacha is expected to open by the end of this month as final touches are being given to the project.
Last week, the Punjab government decided to change Chubacha Underpass name to Beijing Underpass to acknowledge China's support in development projects in the province. The underpass, which is the longest and deepest underpass in the city, has already entered its final stage of completion and did not have any Chinese financial assistance.
The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) had proposed three names for the under construction underpass. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif selected Beijing Underpass.
Furthermore, after renaming the underpass, the city developer decided to use some Chinese architectural elements in the project. Since main structure of the underpass is almost ready and leaves a little room to incorporate traditional Chinese architectural elements so it has been decided to do some tile work for drawing the picture of pagoda style traditional Chinese building on the underpass walls.
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Project contractor Shahid Saleem told The Express Tribune that his company has already initiated tile work to give a Chinese look to the underpass. "I believe tile work and other finishing touches will be completed during the current week. The government has given us a deadline for November 25 for the formal inauguration of the project."
The workers of the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PFA) and other government agencies are also working hard on the project to meet the deadline. "Once the underpass will be opened for traffic, Pakistan Railways will start laying its rail track which was removed for development works of the project."
The Beijing Underpass project has already been delayed for over three months due to poor coordination among government agencies. Initially, the project was delayed as Pakistan Railways failed to issue No Objection Certificate (NOC) to initiate construction in its jurisdiction in a timely manner, and later some time was wasted in land acquisition for widening of roads and other legal formalities.
The project development timeline shows the project contractor had completed construction of most piles in June but it had to wait for almost two months to get superstructure design from the Railways. As railway authorities claimed that it had changed its design standards while considering future requirements and increased traffic load after completion of the CPEC projects.
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According to original project documents, after wasting nearly six years, the Punjab government finally started Chubacha Underpass on Canal Road near Royal Palm Golf and Country Club (RPGCC), in March. The LDA had awarded Rs2.6 billion contract to Habib Construction Services (HCS) for construction of the city's longest (1.3 kilometre) underpass on Canal Road.
Initially, the government had fixed four months deadline for completion of the project, but it has taken almost eight months to complete. The project is a part of Rs7.3 billion Canal Road Expansion project, between The Mall Road and Harbanspura.
The new underpass has three traffic lanes on both sides of the canal for which the government acquired some private and government land. The underpass is starting near the RPGCC and finished before Shalimar Interchange after crossing two railway junctions. The city planners believed the construction of a new underpass will dramatically improve smooth traffic flow on the Canal Road and reduce traffic congestion during peak hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2017.