Construction of 2 more BRTS sections to start soon

LAHORE – In addition to the ongoing 32-km Gajumata to Shahdara section of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), the provincial government plans to start work on two more sections, sources informed TheNation on Sunday.

The sources said the construction of other tracks extending from Thokar Niaz Baig to MAO College (13-km) and Mughalpura (20-km) via Canal Bank Road is likely to start soon. The government hopes to finish the project in six months at an estimated cost of Rs32 billion.

The major portion of the BRTS, to be built in the centre of Ferozpur Road from Gajumata (Kahna) to Shahdara at a cost of Rs22 billion, has been divided into six packages. “The work on 10.1-km package 1 extending from Kahna to Kalma Chowk has already been completed,” sources in the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) said.

As per the plan, the work on the 4.9-km package two extending from Kalma Chowk to Qurtaba Chowk is being carried out by the same construction company. “The plants on the green belts on Ferozpur Road from Kalma Chowk to the Muslim Town flyover have already been removed,” the sources added.

“The work on packages three and four comprising 4.1-km elevated lane from Qurtaba Chowk to Data Darbar is underway; while the work on packages five (a 2.5-km stretch from Data Darbar to Niazi Chowk) and six (a 5.5-km stretch from Niazi Adda to Shahdara) is going to start in a couple of days,” the sources informed.

They said the Planning and Development Department had approved the elevated lane for packages three and four. An official said the Old Ravi Bridge would serve as the BRTS lane for package five and would be closed to general traffic.

Officials involved with the project said they were currently deciding what land purchases would be necessary for the BRTS route. They said a large amount of money was required for land purchase for packages two, three and four; and they also anticipated protests in some cases.

An official said 3-10 feet land from the edge of the road was required at Icchra, and around 21 feet at Shama on Ferozepur Road. “Land was also purchased from the Old Hailey College for package three,” he informed.

He said several shops would have to be torn down at Qurtaba Chowk, as well as many shops on one side of Lytton Road. “Shops at the corner of Lake Road have also been demolished. The construction of packages five and six is simple and does not require extensive land acquisition.

Project Director Mazhar Khan said the work on South Asia’s longest flyover, which is 7.5-km-long and extends from Muslim Town to Data Darbar, had already begun. He claimed that the construction of the 32-km Gajumata to Shahdara section of the BRTS would be completed by the end of October.

Mazhar, however, said the work on other sections of the BRTS – extending from Thokar Niaz Baig to MAO College (13-km) and Mughalpura (20-km) via Canal Bank Road – was likely to start in November after the provincial government’s approval.

A Tepa planning director said it was a good idea to simultaneously start work on the entire project. “It will mean finishing the project in the shortest possible time,” he said.Chief Traffic Officer Dr Usman Anwar said the plan contained routes / tracks for smooth moving of ambulances towards government hospitals situated on the path of the BRTS, especially General Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Gulab Devi Hospital.

The Chief Traffic Officer further said after the completion of the BRTS, ambulances would be allowed to move on the path until the bus service was started. He said removal of encroachments from side-lanes would be ensured before the start of bus service so that ambulances and other emergency vehicles could move swiftly.