LAHORE: After a long delay of 22 months, development works on the most critical section of the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project, the underground Central Station near General Post Office (GPO) on the Mall Road, have kick started on Sunday.
Authorities have decided to close the Mall Road for a minimum of three months to complete cut and cover section of the metro train.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the OMLT package-1 (from Dera Gujjran to Chaburji) contractor, Shahid Saleem, said that after taking precautionary measures as directed by the Supreme Court, the company has already initiated construction activity near all heritage sites where work could not be initiated earlier owing to litigation.
The company has installed scaffolding to give support to historical sites’ structures, he said. Metal sheets and green shade cloth have also been put on historical buildings to preserve their structure, he added.
Saleem said that utility companies, including Lahore Electricity Supply Company (LESCO), Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) have also started work to relocate underground pipelines and cabling infrastructure. Heavy machinery has already reached the site and once utilities were relocated, the company will start construction of three-storey underground Central Station through cut and cover method, he added.
Initially, he said, it was decided to close the Mall Road from Monday but later the city traffic police advised the authorities to avoid severe traffic mess as there was a need to carpet alternative roads before closing the main traffic artery of the city. They highlighted that WASA had recently completed sewerage works in the area and most alternative roads had big potholes that will cause problem in smooth flow of traffic, he disclosed.
However, he pointed out that one side (from Lower Mall to Regal Chowk) of the Mall Road may be closed from Monday as alternative road for this section was motor-able and may not cause hurdle in smooth flow of traffic.
As per the alternative traffic plan, traffic coming from Lower Mall will be diverted to Napier Road which will come on the Mall Road after Lahore High Court Chowk. Similarly, traffic coming from Regal Chowk will be diverted to Fane Road from where it will go to Lower Mall.
Responding to a question, Saleem said that underground utilities had been shifted in front of Shalimar Garden and other historical sites on the Grand Trunk Road. The company had already completed most pile works in the areas and the same was the position at Lakshmi Chowk, he added. The company will complete construction of all pillars at all four incomplete sections between Dera Gujjran and Lakshmi Chowk during the next week, he maintained.
While answering another question, he said that no major development activity was done at the site of Central Station near GPO. So no government agency had any drawing or plan for the underground infrastructure in these areas, he added. “It is difficult to say how much time utility companies will take in shifting utilities from this area as it all depends on the quantum of work which will be unveiled after digging the site,” he concluded.