LAHORE: After substantial cost escalation and delays, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has finally announced it will complete the Sahukat Khanum Flyover by August 25. However, officials working on the project believe this new deadline is unrealistic as the government owes over Rs300 million to the project contractor.
LDA Director General Amna Imran Khan, on Monday, visited the Shaukat Khanum Flyover site to inspect the pace and quality of development works. She directed officials concerned to increase the pace of construction activities for the early completion of the project.
LDA Chief Engineer Mazhar Hussain Khan told Khan that the project is being completed at an estimated cost of Rs903 million, besides expansion of Khayaban-e-Jinnah from Shaukat Khanum Chowk to Raiwind Road at a revised estimated cost of Rs460 million. He highlighted that over 90% of development works on the flyover have already been completed. Hussain also claimed that labour has been increased to complete the project by August 25.
The LDA governing body gave its administrative approval for the project in December last year, at an estimated cost of Rs947.31 million. The project includes remodeling of u-turns on Khayaban-e-Jinnah and construction of four pedestrian bridges on Johar Town Main Boulevard. However, the project was earlier delayed owing to lack of funds and later due to mismanagement and general elections.
Initial cost estimates for remodeling of Khayaban-e-Jinnah were around Rs220 million which had now been jacked up to Rs460 million, as per revised estimates.
The contractors initiated development work of Shaukat Khanum Flyover on March 22. Later in April, the authority expanded the scope of the project and awarded another contract to Sarwar and Company for remodeling of Khayaban-e Firdousi and Khayaban-e-Jinnah.
Originally, the LDA decided to make this a signal-free corridor, but the latest murmurings suggested that city developer and project consultant –National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) – are planning to install a traffic signal under the flyover. This has raised eyebrows among locals as there is no use of spending millions of rupees on the flyover and remodeling of the road if traffic planners of the city fail to remove the signal from Shaukat Khanum Chowk.
An official working on the project highlighted that those thinking that the flyover would be opened by August 25 were living in a dream. He indicated that the authority had hardly paid Rs200 million to project contractor out of a total Rs809 million. Most cheques are still stuck with the provincial treasury department as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had frozen all development funds before elections.
As the project is in its advance stages, he said, the contractor has deputed some labour. However, the project has been slowed down due to nonpayment.
Earlier, the government was pressing the contractor to complete the project by May 15. Later, after expansion of the project’s scope, the deadline was pushed to end-July and now the authority is aiming to complete the project by August 25 which some official still believe is unrealistic. However, citizens of the area are facing serious hardships due to traffic congestion and environmental pollution in Johar Town and adjoining neighbourhoods.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2018.