The start of construction work on the Southern Loop of the Lahore Ring Road is likely to be delayed because of problems with the land-acquisition strategy for the project, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The government needs to buy vast tracts of land from private parties for the Southern Loop.
The process takes about four months and was to be completed by the end of October, but it has not been started yet.
The Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), at a meeting on August 21, raised various objections to a Rs28 billion PC1 plan for land acquisition and moving of roadside services for the Southern Loop and returned it to the Lahore Ring Road Authority (LRRA).
Officials with the LRRA said that around Rs8 billion had been issued to the authority for buying land, but they were not allowed to use the money until the PC1 was approved.
On July 16, the LRRA invited financial and technical proposals by September 30 for the construction of the Southern Loop from four companies – the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), Saadullah Khan and Brothers (SKB), China Works and Albayrak.
The company winning the contract will be given six to nine months to begin construction, during which time it will apply for a loan. It would then have two years to finish construction.
Officials familiar with the project said that the contractor would not apply for a loan until the land acquisition was complete and it had a firm idea of the start of construction.
The company would not want to apply for a loan and then sit on it with interest payments piling up should the land acquisition drag on, they said.
LRRA officials said that they would select the winning proposal within about three weeks of receiving the bids and would award the contract at the end of October or beginning of November.
They said that the Planning and Development Board’s objections to the land acquisition strategy outlined in the PC1 were minor and would be addressed before the next PWDP meeting, which has not yet been scheduled. The contract is to be awarded to a single company.
LRRA Chairman Rashid Langrial said that the land acquisition would be completed before the construction work begins, but the two could also go on side by side.
Asked to explain how this was possible given the time the contractor would need to mobilise for the project, he gave no clear answer, only stating that the problem would be resolved.
Planning and Development Board Public Relations Officer Atif Khushnood said that the PC1 for land acquisition would come up at the next PDWP meeting and would be approved if the objections had been addressed.
Asked about the delay in the project, he said that the Planning and Development Board was tasked with assessing and approving funding for projects and had no concern with other matters.
According to the plan submitted to the PDWP, land acquisition and relocation of roadside services will cost Rs9,958.896 million for Package 1, Rs9,983.460 million for Package 2, and Rs8,670.528 million for Package 3.
The Southern Loop project is divided in four segments. The proposed Southern Loop Package 1, connecting Ferozepur Road to the Northern Loop, is 9.35km long and is to cost around Rs18.65 billion to construct. Package 2 from Gajju Mata, Ferozepur Road, to Adda Plot is 13km long and will cost some Rs31.94 billion. Package 3 from Adda Plot to Maraka, Multan Road, is around 8km and will cost around Rs13.60 billion to build.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2013.
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