The Punjab budget for fiscal year 2011-12 included Rs14 billion for the construction of Southern Loop 1. Now the government is looking for investors to provide the funds for the rest of the Loop. SL1 is scheduled to be completed by June 2012.

LAHORE: Funds reserved for the Lahore Ring Road have been shifted to the effort to fight the dengue epidemic, delaying work on the project, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The menace of dengue outbreak, which has haunt thousands of citizens especially in Lahore, can be conjectured with the fact that the Chief Minister Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif has sacrificed his dream project of Lahore Ring Road (LRR) for the time being by shifting the development funds to control dengue epidemic, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The Punjab budget for fiscal year 2011-12 included Rs14 billion for the construction of Southern Loop 1. Revenue Department officials involved in land surveys and acquisition for SL1, as well as contractors and sub contractors, have been told to stop working for the time being, said an official of the Project Management Unit for the Ring Road.

The Punjab government is looking for investors to provide the funds for the rest of the Southern Loop. SL1 is scheduled to be completed by June 2012.

The official said that work on land acquisition had been underway when the process was halted.

The main contractor, the National Logistics Cell (NLC), has been told to move their manpower and machinery, currently being used to complete the Multan Road revamp, to incomplete sections of the Northern Loop instead of the Southern Loop, he said.

Lahore Commissioner and LRR Project Director Jawad Rafique Malik denied that funds allocated for SL1 had been diverted to the dengue campaign. He also said that officials were still surveying for land acquisition.

The Northern Loop starts at Bund Road near Saggian Interchange and ends at the Sui Gas Housing Society Interchange bordering Defence Phases IV and V. SL1 will run from the Sui Gas Society to Ferozepur Road, with interchanges near Gajju Mata and the Ashiyana housing scheme. The 8.7-km stretch will connect Ferozepur Road with the Ravi Interchange and is expected to reduce the traffic rush on Ferozepur Road and Ghazi Road.

The Punjab government is still searching for investors to fund the rest of the Southern Loop, which will connect Ferozepur Road with Babu Sabu Interchange. A Turkish construction company visited Lahore a month ago and expressed an interest in the project, but no firm offer had been received by the Punjab government yet, the official said.
Meanwhile, construction work on Northern Loop Package 16, which runs through DHA, has been completed while Packages 14 and 15 are still not. Package 14, from Bhatta Chowk Interchange to Bedian Road Interchange, was scheduled to be completed this July.

Malik, the project director, said that he had met with NLC officials and asked them to step up work on the remaining part of the Northern Loop. “Work on both packages will take around a month to complete,” he said.