Monday July 22, 2024

Orange Train delay to cause Rs20m daily fine to Punjab

By Ali Raza
November 30, 2017
LAHORE: Delay in handing over of the completed track of Orange Line Metro Train to Chinese contractors to start test run of the train in the stipulated time will result in a daily penalty of around Rs20 million to the Punjab government.
Senior officials of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) claimed that it will take LDA to almost a year to complete the project’s track once it was cleared by the honourable court. They claimed that this may cross the agreed time period 25 December, 2017, of handing over of the completed track due to which the Chinese will charge a penalty amounting to Rs20 million per day from LDA.
The LDA officials said as per agreement, Authority is bound to hand over the complete track to the Chinese until December 25, 2017, after which the Chinese will install signal, tracking and other technical systems on the track and test run the train till March 2018.
The PML-N government is eyeing to inaugurate the project in March 2018, to get mileage in upcoming elections, they said.Construction work on the 27.1 kilometer long Orange Line Metro Train Project (OLMTP) is halted at 11 points following a court case. The historic buildings protected under Antiquities Act 1975 falls along the alignment of Orange Line project are Shalamar Garden (Minimum distance from Orange Line is 29 meters on one end and 22.8 meters on the other end), Gulabi Bagh Gateway (Minimum distance from Orange Line is 20.9 meters), Buddhu’s Tomb (Minimum distance from Orange Line is 18.1 meters), Chauburji (Minimum distance from Orange Line is 15.9 meters) and Zeb-un-Nisa Tomb (Minimum distance from Orange Line is 33.5 meters) while historic buildings protected under Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985, falls in the vicinity of project alignment included Lakshmi Building (Minimum distance from Orange Line is 10.4 meters), General Post Office (GPO), Aiwan-e-Auqaf (Shah Chiragh) Building, Supreme Court Registry Building and Mauj Darya Darbar & Mosque.
The old building of Saint Andrew’s Church in the vicinity which is not protected either under Punjab Special Premises (preservation) Ordinance 1985 or Antiquities Act 1975, was also included in the list of buildings to be safeguarded.
The incomplete project is already causing several civic issues especially traffic diversion as well as rise of dust, which recently was declared one of the major causes behind the thick smog engulfing the city in start of the winter.
“There is no Plan-B,” said Israr Saeed, Chief Engineer LDA. He said the Authority had already discussed every situation and all proposed modifications in the plan were rejected because they need more land acquisition and dismantling of buildings in core city localities. “We have also discussed extending the underground passage of 1.7 kilometer of the project from Morr Samanabad but it will be too expensive and troublesome for the citizens.
Other than the court case, change of contractor of Orange Line Metro Train Project (OLMTP) Package-2, starting from Chauburji and ending at Ali Town at Raiwind Road, had already sent this segment almost one year behind schedule and residents of adjoining localities such as Samanabad, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Sabzazar, Mustafa Town, Mansoora, Awan Town and Thokar Niaz Beig are facing serious trouble in travelling and are bracing with environmental issues like air pollution.
Vehicular traffic, which usually uses Multan Road, is forced to divert to Canal Bank Road as well as into the localities of Johar Town, Faisal Town and Garden Town. Following this diversion, traffic flow in these residential areas has increased manifolds resulting in long-hour traffic jams especially at Jinnah Hospital, Allah Hu Chowk, SKMH Chowk, Akbar Chowk, Faisal Town and Garden Town roundabouts, Campus Bridge, Kalma Chowk, Muslim Town Morr and etc.
“Projected deadline for completion of the project is December 25, 2017, which is unlikely to be met due to pendency of cases in the superior courts,” a senior LDA official said, adding if cleared, Orange Line may be delayed by a year, which means the dream of the PML-N government to cut red ribbon of this project before election can’t be fulfilled.
Talking about the repercussions of delay in this project, LDA’s Chief Engineer, said it will be a big setback for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and it may send a wrong signal to all other bilateral and multilateral donors of Pakistan. Besides this, civil contractors will also submit claims for delay as well as idling charges of machinery, equipment, manpower and escalation in prices of material, he maintained.
“In case of continued delay, the contractors have the option to terminate the contract which may result in additional construction costs due to increase in market prices of material and items,” he said and concluded that the delay is also a source of inconvenience to public in routine life.