Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Orange Line Metro Train: Litigation to cost exchequer over Rs10 billion

LAHORE, DEC 10 (DNA) – Although the Supreme Court of Pakistan conditionally allowed the Punjab government to complete the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project, the litigation already delayed the project by a year and is likely to escalate cost by more than Rs10 billion. An executive of a contracting company told that all construction works near heritage sites had been halted since January 28, 2016, when the court issued the first stay order. The court took almost 22 months to announce its verdict about the project’s fate. This not only delayed the scheme, but caused huge financial losses to the public exchequer.

He disclosed that In a recent progress review meeting of the project, a chief engineer indicated that the delay was costing the public exchequer around Rs20 million on a daily basis. “Neither local nor Chinese contractors have estimated the exact magnitude of loss, but they will submit their claims once the project is completed.”

He pointed out that the government generally negotiated such claims with local contractors to minimise its burden of loss, but in international contracting, it is difficult for the client to reduce such liabilities. According to an estimate, the delay already cost the public kitty over Rs10 billion, but an exact amount of loss will surface on completion of the project,” he underlined.

Responding to a question, he said it was impossible to complete the metro train project before the general elections in 2018. “The central station near Mall Road is the most critical infrastructure of the project for both Pakistani and Chinese contractors. It is a three-storey underground structure with tonnes of equipment and systems to control the entire metro train operations, but no work was initiated at the site yet due to the court’s stay order,” he said. He added that Chinese engineers also required a lot of time to complete electrical and mechanical works as they have hardly completed 30% of the target.

OLMT Package-1 (from Dera Gujjran to Chaburji) and Package-2 (from Chaburji to Ali Town) contractors said though it was a challenging task, they would try their level best to complete the project in the minimum time. Package-1 contractor Shahid Saleem said he needed more than two months to complete the elevated portion of the metro train track after which Chinese engineers would lay rails and complete electrical and mechanical works. “I believe metro train track will be ready from Dera Gujjran to Lakshmi Chowk by the end of March 2018. The most difficult and time-consuming section of the Package-1 is central station for which we have to close Mall Road for all types of traffic.”

Replying to a question, he said construction near heritage sites would start after installation of seismic sensors on historic sites as directed by the apex court. It will take a little time to initiate construction activity near the famous Shalimar Garden as utility companies have to shift underground wires and pipes from the site.