Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Metro Bus Service: Inaugural ceremony to Highlight Punjab Govt’s Projects in Five Year

Preparations are underway for the inaugural ceremony of the Metro Bus Service slated for February 10. Receptions at each of the stations will highlight the work and programmes of the Punjab government.
Fourteen government departments and six Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers are in charge of arrangements at 27 bus stations. The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to be held at Nishter Colony starting at 10:30am. The first of the 45 buses will take off at 11:45am from Nishter Colony. The bus will stop at every station for a reception.
Every station will have information counters. The City District Government (CDG) has been given six bus stations to look after on the route.  Higher Education Department (HED) will make arrangements on five stations.
Gajju Matta, the first station, will represent the culture of Lahore. The second Dullu Khurd, will advertise the Green Tractor Scheme (organised by the Agriculture Department). The progress of the Jinnah Abadi will be showcased on the third station, Youhanabad, by the Board of Revenue. The Transport Department will highlight the Yellow Cab Scheme at the Nishter Colony Station, the fourth station. Atari Saroba, the fifth station, will highlight the Aashiana Scheme (displays organised by the Punjab Land Development Company).
Sindh’s culture will be displayed at the sixth station, Kaamahan. The seventh station, Chungi Amar Sidhu, will display the culture of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The eighth station, Ghazi Chowk, will represent the culture of Azad Jamu & Kashmir. The Qainchi Stop, the ninth one, will display the culture of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Ittefaq Hospital station, the 10th stop, will be used by Health Department to elaborate its Anti-Dengue Scheme and Mobile Health Units will be highlighted. The Naseerabad stop is under the Danish Schools Authority while Model Town, the 12th stop, is with the Pakistan Educational Endowment Fund. Kalma Chowk, the 13th stop, will have arrangements by the Land Records Management and Information Systems. The Punjab Youth Festival will be celebrated at the Gaddafi Stadium under the auspices of the Sports Department.
At the 14th stop on Canal Road PML-N Lahore President Malik Perviez and General Secretary Khawaja Imran Nazir will greet the bus. The Ichhra station is with the Women Development Department and the Shama station with the Lahore Waste Management Company. The 18th stop, Qurtaba Chowk, will showcase the HED’s internship programme. The Jinazgah stop will present Baloch Culture. The MAO College stop will highlight IT Labs (organised by the HED).
The HED will highlight its foreign scholarship programme at the Civil Secretariat stop. At the Katcheri Bus Station lawyers will greet guests.
The Bhati Chowk stop will display Turkish culture. The 24th stop at Azadi Chowk will highlight the struggle of Tehrik-i- Pakistan (again organised by the HED). The Timber Market stop is with the Lahore Development Authority who will spotlight the workers contribution. The Laptop Scheme will be on display at the 27th stop, Niazai Chowk, by the HED. The closing ceremony would be hosted by MNA Malik Riaz at Shahdara.
Punjab government officials said the cost of the receptions ranged from Rs400,000 to Rs1 million. They said that most of that cost would be borne by the provincial government. The Shama station reception was being sponsored by two Turkish waste management companies. They said the Rs1 million spending was part of its awareness and mobilisation campaign.
Traffic Engineering & Transport Planning Authority officials meanwhile said work on bus stations would be difficult to complete by February 10.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Urban Infrastructure: Metro Bus Service opening delayed, again

The inauguration of the Metro Bus Service, which was due to take place on January 27, is to be delayed for up to a month due to work on the bus stations, The Express Tribune has learnt.
While the bus corridor and 8-kilometre elevated track are largely complete, some 20 bus stations are still under construction, engineers and officials said.
Though the Punjab government maintains that the extensive MBS infrastructure is being built rapidly, a series of deadlines set by the chief minister for the project’s completion have been missed, starting with October 30.
Officials of the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) and the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) said it was up to the chief minister to decide a new date for the project’s inauguration, but they estimated that it would be finished as early as February 10, or as late as the end of next month.
The MBS will run between Gajju Mata and Shahdara. The bus corridor and bus stations from Gajju Mata to Kalma Chowk are finished, but much work still remains on the bus stations for the elevated track.
The first bus station on the elevated track, starting at Muslim Town and heading towards Qurtaba Chowk, is being built by Saadullah Khan and Brothers (SKB). It is missing staircases and entrances. Currently, workers are fitting tiles and building the aluminum roof. The next station at Ichhra, also being built by SKB, is in a more advanced stage, with part of the staircase installed.
Site engineer Ghulam Mujtaba of the SKB said that the stations would be finished by February 10. He said that they were working round the clock at full speed. “The end of a construction project becomes painstaking … a lot of precision is required,” he said.
The next four stations along the elevated track are being built by ZKB Constructions and work on the staircases, floor tiles and roof is underway. Muhammad Omer, site engineer for one of the stations, said that they would be finished in February.
A joint venture of IKAN Engineering and Habib Construction is responsible for three bus stations on the elevated track. Two stations, at the Secretariat and the DCO’s office, are almost complete, while the third at Data Darbar required a great deal of work. Site engineer Muhammad Imran Chaudhry said that they would be finished in the first week of February. He said that escalators for the three stations would soon be installed and this would take no more than four or five days.
Stations between Data Darbar and Shahdara will require another 10-15 days of work, said Tepa officials. They said that there were 14 bus stations on the stretch between Gajju Mata and Kalma Chowk. All of them, except the station at Kalma Chowk, are to be fitted with four escalators each: one each on either side of the road to take bus users up to the pedestrian walkway, and one each from the bus stops, or inner corridor, going up to the walkway on either side. Twenty-two of the 26 escalators for the corridor have been fitted and are being tested. Escalators from the footpath at Naseerabad, Model Town and Ittefaq Hospital are currently being installed, with the rest yet to start. The station at Kalma Chowk will have entrances at ground level as two underpasses are being built there.
The Tepa officials estimated that the opening of the MBS could be delayed by 20 days and the inauguration would take place near the end of February.
Tepa Chief Engineer Muhammad Saeed Akhtar said that he was not aware of any new inauguration date given by the Punjab government. He was hopeful that the project would be completed in the opening days of February.
He said that the escalators for the bus stations were outdoor escalators “which will be able to take a beating”. He said that the total cost of the project was around Rs30 billion.
LTC Chairman Khawaja Ahmad Hassaan said he did not know when the project would be inaugurated. “Any new deadline will be given by the chief minister himself,” he said.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

End of major road works in sight

The city’s traffic woes should ease up by the end of this month, with work on several major road projects to be completed in the coming weeks.
The Model Town underpass is to open today (January 11) while work on the Metro Bus Service (MBS) corridor is to be completed by January 27. The Kalma Chowk underpass is to be finished before February 10.
Officials of the Traffic Engineering and Planning Authority (Tepa) told The Express Tribunethat the Rs520 million Model Town underpass had been finished and only awaited a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The two-lane underpass is 600 metres long and will cater only to ground level traffic, meaning vehicles using the Kalma Chowk flyover will not be able to enter Model Town via the underpass. The underpass is 5.1 metres high so it will be able to accommodate heavy traffic.
Mazhar Hussain, the project director for the Model Town underpass and a section of the MBS, said that the underpass would be opened to traffic today. He said that the dedicated bus lane being built for the MBS would be completed by January 27.
Though the chief minister has previously set earlier deadlines for the MBS project which have been missed, Hussain said that the work was now near completion and the deadline would be met. Workers are currently laying the road surface on the 8.6-kilometre elevated track for the MBS running from New Muslim Town to Data Darbar.
The bus terminals and ticketing systems for the MBS will take a little longer to complete. The bus service is to be free for an initial period.
The Tepa officials said that the Punjab government has set a January 31 deadline for the completion of the Kalma Chowk underpass, though the official deadline in the contract for the project is February 10.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Metro bus project launch likely on 27th

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will announce on Wednesday (today) the formal launching of the Punjab government’s most prestigious project, the Metro Bus Service (MBS), probably on January 27, The News has learnt.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is chairing a high level and conclusive meeting on Wednesday (today) to review the pace of work on MBS and finalising the date of its launching which is most probably of January 27.

Hamza Shahbaz Sharif chaired a meeting of elected representatives from Lahore and officials attached with the project and got briefing from them about the overall progress regarding the construction of MBS. The meeting was arranged to review issues pertaining to the MBS and giving final shape to the agenda of CM meeting which will be held today.

The participants of the meeting had proposed January 27 (Sunday) as most probable date of launching of MBS project. The sources stated the meeting decided to put forward the launching date before the CM who is likely to give final nod on it. Moreover, Hamza Shahbaz got briefing from the officials regarding various aspects of the project and completion process of its different phases. He was informed that more than 90 percent of the work pertaining to the project had been completed and they were just giving final touches to give it complete go ahead.

The 27-km long MBS project is estimated to cost the government around Rs 29.8 billion. Sources further said as date of formal launch of MBS was approaching, the Security Company 2000, whom Punjab government had awarded tenders of MBS security, has started deploying its personnel at various points of MBS after providing them necessary training.

Sources in the police department have claimed that Mujahid Squad had also relieved around 120 men for security purposes of MBS. It is also worth mentioning here that traffic police had also launched its new campaign to guide motorists about different routes especially of MBS. Any citizens may send their messages, write traffic and send it to 8001, he would be responded within seconds about traffic on different routes especially those leading to MBS.

Having around 9-km flyover, this project is going to be completed in less than a year. Chairing a high level meting on 3 January, the CM had announced that free metro buses would be run for the people, during the first two weeks. He had said that the bus fare would be kept within the reach of the common man, while the people would be provided modern e-ticketing system for the metro buses.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Inter-city Buses: Operators asked to Shift Terminals to New Locations

The city district government has proposed a plan asking intercity bus operators have been asked to shift their terminals to new locations in 18 months, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Bus companies, it seems, will require a lot of convincing before they agree to do so.
The government had hoped to organise an auction for licences for new terminals last Thursday but it had to be rescheduled.
Regional Transport Authority Secretary Mian Mohsin Rashid said he did not know why the auction had been postponed.
However, he is hopeful that early resistance will give way ultimately to an agreement. Rashid said that the RTA proposal allows the  companies to establish their terminals in areas of their preference.
The city government has already asked operators using one of the city’s main bus stands at Lorry Adda to move to Thokar Niaz Beg. A 109-kanal terminal has been completed at Thokar Niaz Beg but the transporters have refused to relocate.
City government officials, privy to developments, told The Express Tribune that the government had offered Daewoo the terminal at Thokar Niaz Beg to use till the company constructs a new terminal.
District Coordinating Officer Noorul Amin Mengal confirmed that Daewoo had been offered the Thokar terminal. Daewoo’s general manager said the company was considering the government offer but hadn’t made a decision yet.
Under the new plan, the government has proposed 88 bus terminals in the city. These terminals would be located in three zones along 12 interchanges on the Lahore Ring Road.
The Green Zone will include areas in the heart of the city – except for The Mall and the Walled City, the Blue Zone is situated on the inner side of the Ring Road interchanges and extend two kilometres towards city centre and the Yellow Zone, which is on the outer side of the Ring Road till the revenue limits of the city.
Only four bus terminals, of at least 50 kanals each, will be allowed to be established in the Green Zone. In the Blue Zone, two bus terminals of at least 10 kanals each will be allowed at each interchange. Five terminals, of six kanals each, would be allowed alongside every Ring Road interchange in the Yellow Zone.
The interested companies will submit applications, expressing their interest in setting up terminals.
The government will then hold an auction for the licences. Once a company wins a licence, it would be given 10 months to locate and purchase or lease the land where it wishes to construct the new terminal.
After building plans and NOCs are obtained, the companies will be given adequate time, which varies depending on the zone, to complete construction and shift operations.
Companies setting up new terminals in the Green Zone would be given 10 months, companies that wish to set up a terminal in the Blue Zone eight months and those in the Yellow Zone six months.
Rashid said that around 20 companies, including Daewoo, had expressed interest in the auction, the date for which is yet to be decided.
Daewoo General Manager (Administration) Khurram Mirza said that the company was willing to give the new proposal a shot “despite the difficulties it will pose to the company’s operations”.
He confirmed that the company would be taking part in the auction and that it has applied for a licence each in the Blue Zone and the Green Zone.
Aslam Khan Niazi, the All Pakistan Transport Owner Federation chairman, opposed the policy. He said companies like Abdullah Travellers, Naizi and Skyways owned land on which they have their terminals and did not want to participate in a licence auction.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Trial run: Metro buses to start training run soon

The training run of the Metro Bus Service (MBS) drivers on the Gajju Matta to Kalma Chowk section of the MBS route is likely to start soon.
Six driver trainers from the Turkish company Platform have arrived in Pakistan and have been scheduled to start trainING MBS drivers within 10 days.
A Metro Bus Service Authority (MBSA) official Uzair Shah said Traffic Engineering and Planning Authority (TEPA) will provide a u-turn on Kalma Chowk within 10-days to start training the MBS drivers. He said the training would be conducted by the firms, Platform and Volvo. The drivers would be taught how to drive the buses, how to dock at a platform and how to maintain speed and distance, Shah added.
“Six driver trainers have arrived in Pakistan to train newly-recruited drivers on the MBS route,” a senior Turkish official in Platform said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
He said some drivers for MBS had been hired while others were in the process for hiring.
The official said he expected the training to start in around ten days. He added that the plan was to run five to six buses during the training phase.
“The forty-five buses that reached Karachi will be transported to Lahore in the next 10 days,” he said.
Kalma Chowk project director Khalid Alvi said that they had been given a deadline by the MBS project director to clear the MBS route till December 20. He said they would be able to clear it, if not by December 20, then in around 24 hours or so after the deadline ends. He said the MBS buses would turn before the Kalma Chowk underpass area.
However, another MBSA official speaking on anonymity said neither of the under-construction Model Town Morr nor Kalma Chowk will be ready for any such training to start in the next 10-days. He said the training programme would hopefully start within four weeks.
He said the government was giving too short a deadline to begin the training-run for the buses. “It would be almost impossible to meet the December 20 deadline,” he said.
A TEPA official speaking on condition of anonymity said Kalma Chowk was the only bottleneck preventing buses travelling from Gajju Matta. He said all 10 bus stations were almost complete and the escalators were almost built too.
The official said the Kalma Chowk construction would take another 20 days.
No asphalt had been laid on the intersections as yet, he added.

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