Paved with gold: Metro bus roadwork to cost thrice as much as Kashmir Highway widening

Required work is relatively similar, but cost calculations vary substantially.

Danish Hussain March 28, 2014
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L), Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (C) and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan (R) offer prayers after metro bus project inauguration. PHOTO: INP


The material used to construct road infrastructure for metro bus project in Lahore was expensive because of its “high quality” which raised the cost of project, but in the twin cities, it should be kept simple to reduce the cost.

This was one of several decisions made during a meeting held at the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office in Lahore, on January 14 to finalise arrangements about the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project. The meeting was chaired by Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif and on January 16, when the minutes of the meeting were issued, this decision was prominently highlighted.

The Islamabad section of the project will be the costliest road project in the history of the federal capital. The total cost of the 13.66-kilometre Islamabad section is Rs23.9 billion. That comes out to Rs1.75 billion per kilometre.

This cost also includes the construction of an interchange at Peshawar Mor and 14 bus stations along the route in Islamabad. The interchange cost mentioned in PC-I of the project is Rs5 billion, the cost of construction of 14 bus stations was Rs770 million, and Rs500 million has been set aside for land acquisition.

If the cost of these three components is excluded, the cost of roadwork alone comes to Rs17.6 billion - almost Rs1.29 billion per kilometre, or Rs1.29 million per metre.

Cost Comparison 

There is already a road-widening project underway in the capital for Kashmir Highway. Under this project, a 12-kilometre patch will be widened by building two additional rigid lanes on each sides of the existing road - which required levelling as well --- besides resurfacing the existing three lanes on each side, all of which has been budgeted at Rs4.7 billion.

Per kilometre, that works out to cost of this road project is slightly under Rs392 million - barely 30 per cent of the cost of roadwork for the bus project, despite the fact Kashmir Highway will be adding twice as many lanes.

The road infrastructure required for the Islamabad section of the metro bus project also involves a flyover at the intersection of IJP Road, three underpasses at 9th Avenue and an underground at the intersection of 9th Avenue and Jinnah Avenue. Conversely, the Kashmir Highway widening involves the construction and widening of seven bridges over wide streams passing under the road.

The Central Development Working Party, while discussing the original Islamabad Section PC-1 worth Rs24.02 billion, had asked for rationalisation of cost, which came out to Rs23.9 billion.

An official from project consultant Nespak — which worked out the cost — said the figure was calculated on the basis of updated prices notified in the Punjab Government Schedule of Rates.

Meanwhile, a senior CDA Planning official quipped, “It seems that by quoting such high rates for Islamabad metro bus project, the Punjab government wants to justify the cost of Lahore bus project”.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2014.


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