Delay escalates expressway cost

Punjab finance dept will need approval from federal govt

Afzal Talib January 25, 2023


The elevated expressway project of the Punjab government to reduce traffic problems in Lahore has been included in the Master Plan 2050 after repeated delays.

As the estimated cost of the project has increased to Rs85 billion, the provincial finance department will now need approval from the federal government to implement it.

Due to unavailability of funds and delay in starting the work, the project cost has increased by about Rs54 billion, an official told The Express Tribune.

Under the project planned several years ago, an elevated track will be built from Home Economics College in Gulberg over a stream that will bypass Shadman, Samanabad, Ferozepur Road and Gulshan Ravi to end at the motorway.

The vehicles going to and from the motorway will move on the expressway, which will reduce the traffic load in the city.

The initial estimated cost of the project was Rs31 billion but the work could not be started and the plan remained buried in the files.

After almost three and a half years, the government led by former chief minister Usman Buzdar resumed work on the proposed project, under which four lanes of the elevated expressway will be built on 10.5km. Private land measuring 801 kanal will be acquired and handed over to the LDA for the purpose. The owners will be compensated for the cost of the land. The people affected by damage caused to buildings falling along the passage will also be compensated, for which Rs3.5 billion has been kept.

Six interchanges will constructed between the Home Economics College and the motorway.

According to a traffic survey, it is estimated that 73,866 vehicles will be able to pass through the expressway in a day. The project was scheduled be completed in 15 months.

However, due to prolonged delay, the construction cost has increased by a huge amount.

Former CM Buzdar had approved the project, after which Lahore Development Authority officers had reportedly assured him that the work could begin as soon as funds were available.

The former chief minister had directed the finance department to release funds to the LDA so that the project could be inaugurated in March last year, but they could not be released.

The project could not be launched later due to high expenses.

The estimated cost of construction has now increased to Rs85 billion and the amount may rise further if it is delayed again.

In view of the importance of the project, it has been included in the Lahore Master Plan 2050 so that work on it can be started whenever the funds are available with the government.

As the estimated cost of the elevated expressway has increased, it will now also have to be approved by the federal government.

According to sources in the LDA, only 20 per cent of the required land has been acquired so far in Shadman and Gulshan Ravi.

However, owners in the Tauheed Park and Chaudhry Colony have claimed that they have been offered less amount for the land and refused to hand it over, the sources said.

LDA Director General Amir Ahmad Khan said the previous government had approved the plan, but its cost had increased because the construction material had become expensive.

He said all preparations for the construction of the project were complete.

The DG said the work would be started as soon as the funds were available and efforts would be made to complete it on time.

He said the expressway would also reduce pollution in the city.


Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2023.


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