LAHORE – Bhogiwal Road, an important artery of Northern Lahore falling in the NA-123 constituency, a citadel of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has been under construction for the last two years making residents’ life miserable. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of the road on September 9, 2008, but failed to follow up on its pace of construction. The 3.4-km-long Bhogiwal Road, located in Baghbanpura near Shalamar Garden, a main approach-road linking Grand Trunk Road to Bund Road and Ring Road, is part of the Lahore Road Rehabilitation Project (LRRP) Part II. The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) hired National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) for the road’s design and contracted Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to construct the road. LDA has not been able to finalise land acquisition and clear encroachments, making it difficult for FWO to start construction work.

The section I of the road from Singhpura Mor to Shawala Chowk is dug more than seven feet from the surface making a big trench. Various incidents of people slipping into the depression have been reported. Some motorcyclists also fell in the crater, getting severely injured. With the construction pending, the entire area has turned into a desert of dust and the situation worsens in windstorms. After rain, the trench gets filled with water and turns into a puddle, becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. With Bhogiwal Road unserviceable, traffic flow has been shifted to other linking roads due to which huge traffic jams are seen on these roads most of the time.

Sources in LDA said the encroachments patronised by PML-N local leaders were an important impediment in the process. An LDA official told Pakistan Today that under the original road widening plan several shops and houses belonging to PML-N leaders and their friends had to be bulldozed. The area to be demolished had been marked with red color and information regarding demolition had been passed on to the people. But PML-N leaders got the design changed for fear of a backlash from the constituents. “Still, there are illegal extensions of houses and shops squeezing the ‘right of way’ on the road. PML-N minister Pervaiz Malik had announced that he would have all encroachments knocked them down in February but not a single brick could be demolished,” he added.

A source said the Lahore Electric Supply Corporation had promised to relocate electric polls, but it remained a pipe dream. Neither did the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited start work on laying a four-inch gas pipeline, he added.

An LDA Engineering Wing official told Pakistan Today that FWO was mobilised on Bhogiwal Road on October 21, 2010 and paid Rs 35 million by the LDA. He said the total construction cost was Rs 450 million. Out of this amount, Rs 280 million had to be paid to FWO and the rest was to be given to other departments, he added. He said that FWO was paid another Rs 90 million later and after around Rs 65 million had been consumed, the construction work was stopped because of inaction on the part of the LDA. He said that the delay would favour NESPAK working as a consultant on the project.

“FWO is the one who will bear the brunt of this delay. As the delay continues, construction costs will increase inflicting huge financial damage on it,” he added. Meanwhile, according to Clause 7 of MOU signed between LDA and FWO on Bhogiwal Road, 0.1 percent of the total project cost had to be paid to FWO by LDA as compensation for the delay, said the source. It is the third rehabilitation of the road. The earlier two versions were of Asphalt black top but could not complete their life mainly because of the high moisture content in the sub soil and heavy flooding.