Model Town underpass accessible on 10th MBS project may be complete by 20th

LAHORE, Jan 6: The Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) is likely to accomplish the Rs30 billion worth of Metro Bus System (MBS) Project by Jan 20.

The agency, a subsidiary of the Lahore Development Authority, also plans to get the project inaugurated soon after its completion.

Sources told Dawn though LDA, TEPA and six contractors of good repute — National Logistic Cell (NLC), Makksons, Sarwar and Company and two joint ventures of SKB and Al-Bayrek and ZKB and Reliable — were scheduled to complete the project by Jan 31, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif pushed the officials to complete it by Jan 20.

They said keeping in view CM’s desire, the officials started executing various project activities on a fast track from last month.

At present, the sources said the entire 27-km dedicated bus pathway except three small portions, from Niazi Chowk to Shahdara measuring about 2-km, Kalma Chowk and Model Town underpasses, had been completed. Though the remaining stretch (from Niazi Chowk to Shahdara) and the dedicated overhead bridge for buses at Ravi River would be completed later, work on the aforementioned two small portions (Kalma Chowk and Model Town underpasses) would be completed by Jan 9.

They said keeping in view the current construction scenario, the MBS would be ready for bus operation by Jan 20.

They said the dedicated bus pathway had been designed in a way that it could be even used for running a train by laying rail track on it. “If we plan to lay rail track on this long corridor, this could carry its load and operations as well. However, the government only planned to ply buses at the moment,” an official said.A senior TEPA official, when contacted, said of total 27, the officials had completed 100 per cent work on five bus stations at the moment. “The remaining 22 bus stations will be completed by Jan 15 as about 80 to 90 per cent of work relating to preparation of platforms, lighting, automated announcements, elevators (if required) ticketing and others had been completed there till date,” TEPA Chief Engineer Saeed Akhtar told Dawn.

He said although the officials were presently engaged in finishing various works, the completed tasks included the 8.6-km long overhead bridge, installation of fences along both sides of the track from Gajjumata to Niazi Chowk, installation of efficient transport system and automated announcements etc.

Asked about Model Town underpass, he said the TEPA officials would complete the project by Jan 9 and the CM would open it for traffic on Jan 10. Similarly the Kalma Chowk, which had been closed for traffic since Dec 20, would be opened on Jan 9 as per schedule.

“It was actually closed because of construction work on a small portion of the dedicated pathway, bus station and digging for Kalma Chowk underpass. And now we have completed the bus station and are about to complete the pathway whereas work on underpasses will continue till completion deadline (Jan 31).”

He said despite carrying out construction work on Kalma Chowk underpasses till Jan 30, the MBS would be ready for launching the bus operation in third week of this month, most probably by Jan 20 as desired by the CM.

To a question, the chief engineer admitted that there would be problem for running of the 18-meter long buses from Niazi Chowk to Shahdara due to absence of a dedicated track and an overhead bridge on the Ravi for them. “As we have yet to launch construction work on these assignments, we will be forced to ply the buses via existing Ravi bridge along routine traffic.”

Various departments concerned have almost completed feasibility studies for launching the MBS on Multan Road (from Thokar to MAO College) and Azadi Chowk to railway station besides connecting it with Ring Road.