- Construction work progresses speedily for a signal-free Jail Road after SC turns down LHC’s verdict against it
As the Supreme Court (SC) has set aside the Lahore High Court (LHC)’s ruling against development work on signal-free corridors on Main Boulevard Gulberg and Jail Road, the Punjab government is progressing with full force to complete the project within four months.
The project started on March 1 and was meant to be completed on June 30. However, on the petition of a non-government organisation (NGO), Lahore Bachao Tehreek, LHC restrained the Punjab government from executing the project.
The LHC in its judgment claimed that these projects of public interests fall into the ambit of local governments and provincial governments have nothing to do with these development works.
However, the Supreme Court allowed the provincial government to complete the project by setting aside the LHC ruling. Now the project which resumed in July will take about another four months to be completed with a cost of Rs 1.3 billion.
A private company, Habib Construction Services (HCS), is carrying out the projects under the patronage of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and its subsidiary Traffic Engineering &Transport Planning Agency (TEPA).
Habib Construction Company (HCS) Chief Surveyor Irfan Majeed, who is busy nowadays in completing the project before its deadline, told Pakistan Today that the overall length of the project is of 7.6 kilometres, which includes two underpasses of 535 and 630 meters, respectively.
Majeed claimed that the total duration of the project is of four months and now time will be counted from the day Supreme Court gave decision in project’s favor.
A deputy director of Lahore Development Authority (LDA), who is associated with its engineering department and is monitoring the project, told Pakistan Today that the Punjab chief minister wants the project to be completed within three months because it is already too late. According to him, seven signals on Jail Road and Main Boulevard will be made signal-free to facilitate the commuters.
The salient features of the project include re-modelling of Main Boulevard Gulberg from Liberty roundabout to Fawara Chowk, reconstruction of Jail Road from Sherpao Bridge to Qartaba Chowk with two underpasses on Jail Road at Fawara Chowk and Shadman Chowk.
In the meanwhile, diverse views emerged in a survey conducted by Pakistan Today of the area locals and commuters who will be directly influenced by the project.
While a majority of the citizens spoke in favour of the project, some residents seemed disturbed by the commuting hardships they were facing due to road closures caused by construction work.
A taxi driver, Shabbir Ahmad, who has been providing his services on Jail Road near Services Hospital, believes that this signal-free project will definitely eradicate the miseries of commuters, especially of patients, because there are a number of hospitals on Jail Road.
Ahmad thinks that this project is essential as he himself has witnessed hundreds of patients dying on Jail Road for failing to reach hospitals in time due to traffic mess.
On the other hand, an elderly resident of Shadman, Mohammad Yousaf, expressed annoyance over Punjab government’s “crusades for blemishing Lahore’s beauty”. “What is the government trying to achieve with all these construction projects. The government should work on controlling the number of vehicles on the road than changing the city’s entire structure.”
Aftab Sher, a doctor by profession, however differed from Yousaf’s view. He pointed out the hardships ambulances had to face on Jail Road, especially during rush hours. “With barely three lanes on a highway that connects several residential and commercial areas of the city, it is impossible for ambulances to reach hospitals in time. Delays in timely emergency services to patients have resulted in complications and even casualties on occasions. A signal-free Jail Road will not only ensure timely medical assistance to patients commuting through ambulances but also make things easy for general commuters.”
Moreover, Rao Fiaz, a traffic warden deputed on Jail Road, told this scribe that people will have to face traffic problems during the construction of the project but ultimately they will definitely benefit. He said that the city traffic police have made special arrangements to facilitate the commuters. A helpline of traffic police has already been launched and special diversion signboards have been erected for the public convenience, he added.