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Lahore Ring Road unlikely to complete this year

LAHORE: The much-hyped multibillion 77-km Lahore Ring Road (LRR) project, a six-lane wide road, around the provincial metropolis is unlikely to be completed within its scheduled time, December 31, 2008.

It has been observed that only a 15 km portion of the road is open for the traffic while work on the remaining 62 km road is either yet to be started or in its preliminary stage, hence its completion by the end of the current year is doubtful.

An official of the Lahore Ring Road PMU told The Post that the land acquisition for the road plus relocation of services of civic authorities stationed in the proposed route of LRR pose a bigger problem than imagined, and went on to blame the non-cooperative attitude of the urban departments including Wapda, Wasa, PTCL and other allied sections.

On the other hand, the contractors, he said, remain reluctant to carry out the works following a fresh increase in the prices of construction material. He said the contractors now demand a new tender, saying those originally filled have now rendered them unable to meet the construction costs. He said some contractors have even applied for revision of their contracts, refusing ‘point-blank’ to continue work on the LRR. He said the non-acquisition of land has further delayed the initiating work at the awarded sections of different packages, causing huge losses in terms of labour-retaining cost. He urged the Project Director LRR to discuss the matter with the new Minister for Communications and Works soon after his appointment. The official claimed that a few officers of other civic departments are also trying to impose new restrictions and presenting new demands before the PMU, warning of a complete stop to all work in their jurisdictions following non-acceptance of their demands. “The uncertainty rises. Even the PMU could not calculate the completion date,” he added.

Reportedly, the largest project in the history of ;Lahore which started on November 22, 2004 whose first phase from Saggian Chowk to Kharia Distributry was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2007 remains in doldrums. The existing situation indicates that the project would be delayed, bypassing even its extended schedule time as the major portion of the 6-lane carriageway was far from completion.

As per the Project Management Unit (PMU) of the Ring Road, almost 15 km of the road has been opened for traffic and is operative, except for some portions of the road from Sagian interchange to Lakho Dair where nominal construction work has to be done.

As per the former communication minister Ch Zaheer Ahmed, a sum of Rs 17.33 billion had already been used up on the project till August 2007. It was expected that around Rs 100 to Rs 120 billion would ensure completion of such a mega project of Punjab.

According to the proposed design of the LRR, the road will go from Babu Sabu to Niazi Chowk, Shama Chowk Ichhra, Kalma Chowk, Ferozepur Road, Allama Iqbal International Airport, Mahmoodpura, Harbanspura, Darugawala, Mahmood Booti, Old Ravi Bridge and New Ravi Bridge.

The Lahore Ring Road project was originally conceived 25 years ago and a few studies were carried out on it over the period. The road, touted as an alternative transport route to ease the traffic load within the city, was designed and redesigned in the past with a few alterations, keeping in view the political and economic interests of many in the ruling party.

In 1991, JICA, an institution of Japan, proposed a road-loop in the city and the World Bank prepared a feasibility report on a 60-km ring road. In 1995, the Lahore Development Authority presented its Ring Road scheme. At that time, Daewoo and other foreign companies had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the LDA to build this road. However, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif wanted the Ring Road to include Raiwind Road where his family had built their farm house. As a result, the amended road design proposed a length of 75 km. But this project was unable to take off.

It is notable to mention here that the proposed design of the LRR had been changed several times following lapses in the design, non-acquisition of land and even overlapping of the LRR with the Lahore Rapid Mass Transit System, another mega project planned to tackle vehicular problems being faced by the citizens.

When contacted, Project Director LRR Khalid Farooq and Director Operations Muhammad Imtiaz remained unavailable for comments.

Courtesy: The Post

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