“Every day it took me almost an hour and a half to cross the Ravi Bridge, on my way back to Lahore from Shahdara. Thanks to routine traffic snarl-ups,” says Mustafa, a local who attributes these to the delay in expansion of the main GT Road.
The road leading from Kala Shah Kaku to the Ravi Bridge is the main entry point of the provincial capital but everyone heading towards Lahore has to face the same traffic problem. The situation is the same at Aik Moriya Pul, and Shaukat Khanum Flyover. For the uninitiated, besides the much-hyped Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), there are a number of ‘mega’ projects for Lahore for which funds had already been approved but these were left midway when the new government (of PTI) came into power. These include rehabilitation of Khayaban-e-Jinnah, Khayaban-e-Firdosi and Maulana Shaukat Ali Road into signal-free corridors; remodeling of Noor Jehan Road, restructuring of all underpasses on Canal Bank Road, construction of a sports stadium and a ride-and-shop complex.
Recently, the top management of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) opened for traffic the incomplete flyover outside Shaukat Khanam Memorial Hospital, whereas the construction work on the road junction just under the bridge is still pending. Citizens have to spend hours crossing the road because of a diversion, and the spot is witness to traffic jams on daily basis, especially at peak hours.
Next to the said flyover is another project that is waiting to be completed — the rehabilitation of Khayaban-e-Jinnah connecting SKMH Chowk to Raiwind Road. This was causing problems to the citizens. The 5.5-kilometre long road was dug up at various points while diversions were installed to control traffic. Sources say that almost 60 percent work on the project is done.
LDA was going to start this project with its own resources — its estimated cost being Rs460 million. As per details, the road was to be reconstructed and remodelled into a signal-free corridor. The fate of the project, which was started in May 2018 and would be completed in only three months, is in a limbo. The officials said the funds for the project would be made available once the LDA passed its budget for the year 2018-19. But this is not to be.
Yet another mega project — the rehabilitation of Khayaban-e-Firdosi, starting at Shauq Chowk, Johar Town, up till the SKMH flyover — is yet to be started. The estimated cost of this project is Rs300 million, and the LDA looks likely to complete it with its own resources.
The Rain Water Harvesting Project was also an important plan by previous government which too hasn’t kicked off yet.
Other projects for which funds were approved include conversion of energy through solar power LED street lights in Lahore, consultancy services for preparation of Master Plan for water supply, sewerage, drainage and groundwater management system for Sheikhupura, Kasur, and Nankana Sahid districts, establishing twelve sports complexes in various localities of Lahore, and widening of Bedian Road.
The reconstruction and remodelling of Aik Moria Pul in the heart of the city was a priority project for the previous government. This, too, was halted after it was 10 percent complete. The project was supposed to reduce traffic load on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road, Landa Bazaar, Railway Station, and Circular Road.
The existing Aik Moria Pul is a major bottleneck, though it provides access to major business hubs like Akbari Mandi, Badami Bagh, Anarkali, Misri Shah, Shad Bagh, educational institutes such as UET, Government Islamia College, Punjab University, King Edward Medical University, and historical places including Masjid Wazir Khan, Delhi Gate, Shahi Hamam, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort, and Greater Iqbal Park.
Circular Road, adjacent to Aik Moria Pul, is a highly congested area. The traffic coming from surrounding commercial and residential areas — chiefly, Badami Bagh, Shad Bagh, Delhi Darwaza, Akbari Mandi, Lorry Adda, and Railway Station — converge near the bridge and cause serious traffic congestion.
A senior LDA officer tells TNS, on condition of anonymity, that a total of Rs569 million were approved by the previous government for different development projects. “The funds was available with us but only Rs150.417 million were utilised.”
When contacted, LDA Chief Engineer Mazhar Khan says that the authority is working to start the abovementioned projects soon. “Work on some of these has already been started, and tenders are advertised,” he claims.