LAHORE – After the project of Lahore Ring Road (LRR), another brainchild of Sharif brothers ‘Multan Road Project’ pending since 1988, is likely to start in January 2010. The project will cost Rs 7.4 billion.

The PML-N government has handed over the Multan Road Project to LRR (Project Management Unit) to re-launch the much-delayed construction of main artery of the City.

Construction cost of the Multan Road Project has increased 600 per cent after expenditure shot up from Rs 1.5 billion to Rs 7.4 billion due to its delay over the last 12 years. Multan Road was initially planned to be widened to six-lane dual carriageway with inclusion of underpasses at Samanabad Chowk, Yateem Khana Chowk and an overhead bridge at Scheme Mor. However, the NESPAK called the widening of the road as unviable and opposed the construction of underpasses and overhead bridge.

Under the technical intricacies, the government has dropped the extension plan and excluded the underpasses and overhead bridge from the project. Now, Multan Road will be remodelled instead of being widened. The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) with the help of the National Logistic Cell (NLC) has already carried out patch-up work of the road at the cost of Rs 22.54 million in 2008.

The Environment Protection Department (EPD) officials told The Nation that remodeling of Multan Road would ease the traffic pressure from other roads, especially Canal Bank Road, Wahdat Road and subsequently Ferozpur Road, but if the road would be reconstructed without underpasses or flyovers it would make the situation worse.

They maintain that Multan road is important for the local traffic as it connects one corner of the City (Raiwind) with the other (Azadi Chowk). It also provides a direct link to the motorway via Bund Road. In a routine day, it takes almost one and a half hours to reach Chauburgi from Thokar, while traffic mess doubles this time.

Under the project, 28 single arm poles, 349 double arm poles, 726 sodium lights and 15 transformers would be installed on both sides of the road while 4 leg-type traffic signals and 07 t-type traffic signals would be installed on it besides the improvements of crossings. Service road and drain will also be constructed to discourage encroachments and to ensure early drainage of rainwater.

The City District Government (CDG) officials said that the provincial government had approved fund Rs 1.5 billion for the project but it could not be given a final shape as Wasa’s feasibility report was poor. “Wasa officials had submitted the report to the District Coordination Officer (DCO) but the report had been sent back,” they added. The then DCO, Muhammad Ijaz had directed the Wasa officials to remove flaws in the plan. TEPA officials say that the road constructed in 1988 has outlived its life.

Sources said that when the CDG sent the project to Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to get Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the EPD raised several objections over the remodelling and reconstruction of these two projects and asked the CDG to reply. It is pertinent to mention here that the EPD has also sent two reminders to the Department to get reply to the objections, but failed to get response from the CDG.

The EPD sources say that the Works and Services Department did not include any underpass or flyover in these projects, which means after remodelling and reconstruction both the roads would continue to face traffic congestion and jams at key points such as Chauburgi, Samanabad Mor, Yateem Khana Chowk, Scheme Mor and Garhi Shahu Chowk.

Source: The Nation