KARACHI: Originally scheduled to be completed in 2009, the Lyari Expressway’s completion has finally been announced in January, 2018. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will inaugurate the expressway’s north-bound track starting from Mauripur tomorrow (Sunday).
Due to the abnormal delay in its completion, the expressway became a symbol of maladministration of successive governments. The project was conceived in 2002 and was scheduled to be completed in 2009. Its south-bound track connecting Sohrab Goth to Mauripur Road was completed earlier and is being use since 2010 but the other track took years to be completed due to remaining work on its 1.6 kilometre portion, which was allegedly encroached upon. Lack of federal government funding was also cited as one of the reasons for the delay.
“Around 99% work was already finished and only 1% [incomplete portion] created hindrance for years. Finally, we have finished it,” Lyari Expressway Project Director Javed Langah told The Express Tribune. “From Sunday, there will be uninterrupted traffic flow on both tracks from Sohrab Goth to Mauripur and back,” Langah said, adding that around 10,000 vehicles are expected to ply on the expressway every day.
It also seems that the project has not been completed in its entirety. Lighting on the expressway has not been completely arranged. “There is a lighting issue which will be resolved soon,” the project director said.
According to official documents, the original cost of the project was Rs5 billion. However, due to delays, it kept increasing over the years. “Now, the total estimated cost of this project, with lighting, stands at Rs11 billion,” Langah said.
The Lyari Expressway is a16km-long elevated thoroughfare which runs along the Lyari River. It is a toll road which allows signal-free traffic movement between Sohrab Goth and Mauripur Road.
Since its inception, the project was surrounded by controversies. Many houses had to be demolished for the project and their inhabitants were promised compensation. However, many affectees still claim that they were not paid any money and their pleas are being heard in court.
The government also claimed that the encroachers offered resistance to the government teams, not allowing the removal of encroachments, which resulted in the delay in the completion of the 1.6km patch.
After hue and cry was raised in the media regarding the delay, the Sindh government formed a committee in 2015 under the supervision of then Karachi commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui to remove encroachments. However, the committee could not accomplish anything.
When the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz government came into power, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced to complete the project in a short span of time. He directed then chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to remove encroachments, but that too failed. In February 2016, Nawaz again announced to complete the expressway as soon as possible.
The delay in the project also irked courts. In December 2017, the Sindh High Court ordered the provincial government to open both tracks of the expressway by January 1. The provincial government, however, could not complete the project by the deadline and later informed the court that it was unable to give a definite time period for the project’s completion since federal authorities were also involved in it.
Apart from inaugurating Lyari Expressway, the PM will also review the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit project, which starts from Surjani Town and ends at Municipal Park, MA Jinnah Road.