Transit rail’s technical feasibility report: Punjab govt awards contract to MVA Asia
* Technical work on $2b project starts, will be completed by end of May
* 12km from Kalma Chowk to Bhaati Gate will run underground
By Khawaja Naseer
LAHORE: The Punjab government has awarded the contract for carrying out the technical feasibility of the Mass Transit Rail Service (MTRS) in the city to Hong Kong-based construction firm MVA Asia, Punjab government sources told Daily Times on Saturday.
Technical work on the estimated $2 billion project had started, sources said, adding that the under the proposed MTRS plan about 350,000 people would be facilitated daily and that the project would cover 27 square kilometres of the city.
Interestingly, after a lot of discussion on weather Lahore should have an elevated, underground or surface monorail system, consultants were considering an underground system, sources added.
It was also proposed that 12 kilometres of track from Kalma Chowk to Bhaati Gate would run underground, sources said.
The project’s technical study would be completed by the end of May 2006, sources said, adding that the Punjab government had started two transport projects including the Ring Road and MTRS to facilitate Lahoris.
Sources said that besides MVA Asia’s help with the MTRS project, which was being supervised by the Punjab Transport Department, NESPAK was providing technical consultation for the Ring Road project, which was being supervised by the Punjab Communication and Works (C&W) Department.
The Punjab chief minister had asked the Punjab Planning and Development Department to coordinate with the C&W and Transport Departments to avoid technical differences over both projects, sources added.
If the MRTS project was inaugurate by 2007, it would be completed by the end of 2012, sources said. However, they refused to disclose the sources that were funding the MRTS project and consultancy fee.
About 10 foreign countries had bid for the international tender for the MTRS project on April 26, 2005, and the Punjab government’s Consultant Selection Committee announced that Transplan SDN BHD and Min Consultants Private Limited from Malaysia, Hamburg Consult Private Limited from Germany and MVA Hong Kong Limited from Hong Kong had qualified for the final bid.
The selection committee consisted of the transport secretary, engineers and financial officials of the Planning and Development Department, Finance Department and Communication and Works Department.
Government circles have been contemplating a mass transit system for Lahore for a long time. The feasibility report of a light rail transit (LRT) system was made by Japanese development organisation JICA in 1991, when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister. It had proposed a 13-kilometre-long LRT system.
The study was reviewed and updated as part of the World Bank funded ‘Lahore Traffic and Transport Studies’ in 1993.
The cost of the system was estimated at about $400 million, but with better network coverage. In 1995 Japan proposed to finance the original scheme with grants and loans of about $495 million, but the project could not be implemented due to various reasons.
The army-led government also worked on such a project in 2000 and a memorandum of understanding was signed, but the project was dropped again.
“I don’t know exactly why the previous projects were shelved, but the 2000 study was dropped because the other party backed out,” one of the sources said.