Study on to extend MBS to Multan, GT roads

LAHORE, Nov 2: Various departments concerned have formally started conducting a feasibility study for launching the Metro Bus System (MBS) Project on Multan Road and Grand Trunk (GT) Road after making operational the system on the 27km-long stretch from Gajjumatta to Shahdara.

Officials say some engineering experts of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) and Punjab Metro Bus Authority (PMBA) were given the task to initiate a study in this regard, in collaboration with some local and foreign consultants.

“After completion of the on-going construction work of the MBS from Gajjumatta to Shahdara via Ferozepur Road, Lytton Road, Lower Mall, Bhati and Ravi Road, the government plans to execute this on Multan Road (from Thokar Niaz Beg to MAO College via Hanjarwal, Scheme Mor, Yatim Khana, Samanabad Mor and Chauburji and GT Road (from Azadi Chowk/Intersection to Ring Road). That is why the departments concerned have initiated the study for launching the MBS construction work on the two major routes of the city,” LDA Director General Ahad Khan Cheema told Dawn on Friday.When asked about any further expansion of the project up to other major roads such as The Mall and Jail Road etc, he said there were no such plans.

He said the on-going study would elaborate various modalities and tasks related to smooth and uninterrupted construction of the signal-free dedicated bus corridors, bridges, underpasses, pedestrian bridges and other required allied works and facilities.

About the execution of the project, Mr Cheema said though the departments concerned had an approved administrative estimate of Rs24.8 billion for Gajjumatta-Shahdara corridor, there were chances of a little increase in the cost pushing it up to Rs27 billion. “But we hope to get it completed within (the estimated cost of) Rs24.8 billion as approved by the Punjab government,” he hastened to add.

He said the 27-km long corridor, including a huge bridge measuring 8.3km, meant for buses, had been designed in a way that it could be even used for running a train by laying rail track on it.

“Suppose if we plan to lay rail track and run train on these corridors, these could bear its load and operations as well,” he said, adding, however, presently the government would only ply buses there.

He said the six contractors of good repute — National Logistic Cell (NLC), Makksons, Sarwar and Company and two joint ventures of SKB and Al-Buraq and ZKB and Reliable — were engaged in the MBS construction.

Mr Cheema said traveling would be subsidised on the MBS. “The traveling for people through MBS will be free during the
first month of its launching,” he said. And later the government would introduce a well subsidised traveling package for the citizens, he said.

He said the PMBA was also working on introducing the subsidised fare for MBS.

He said an irrigation department study was also under way for construction of a bridge on the Ravi, another major component of the MBS. He denied the reports of launching the MBS without conducting feasibility study and PC-1, saying: “How it is possible to launch such a mega project without conducting studies or approving the PC-I. Everything was done in accordance with law for launching the MBS,” Cheema claimed.