LAHORE, June 12: Simultaneous digging of various roads and demolition work for the construction of dedicated bus tracks/lanes as part of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in the city is inconveniencing motorists and residents of various localities.

The Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa), which was entrusted with the task to implement the mega project, has removed the entire green belts, signals, sewerage systems, roads and other infrastructure recently built up or installed with huge funds.

The city is in dire need of such a transport project. But, sources said, ill-planning, mismanagement and political compulsions had led to “loss of millions”. They said the departments concerned, mainly Tepa, had launched construction work on the 32km long BRTS from Gajjumatta to Shahdara via Ferozepur Road, Mozang, Lytton Road, Jain Mandar, MAO College, Data Darbar and Niazi interchange in February despite the fact that it (project) was envisaged and approved last year.

Even officials seem confused about the project. “I am surprised how the departments are working. First they spent huge funds on the construction, rehabilitation and widening of various roads and crossings despite knowing about implementation of the BRTS in near future.

“Later, they launched the mega project and are now demolishing infrastructure to lay down the dedicated bus tracks/lanes,” an official told Dawn.

He said the taxpayers felt disappointed when they saw waste of money. The departments, alleged the official, were also creating problems in the way of public mobility.

He said the public was facing a great deal of inconvenience due to digging of roads that were constructed or rehabilitated during the last couple of months. “Had the officials followed a plan, they would have saved funds spent recently on the construction of various roads selected for the BRTS route,” he deplored.

He said the project not only reflected financial loss but also showed the Punjab government’s desire to complete it as soon as possible because of electoral demands.

“They (officials) don’t know where they will use grills, curve stones, plants, pipes, lights, signals and other material removed during the ongoing demolition work for the BRTS,” he said, apprehending that officials might sell these as scrap.

A student, Sadaqat Husain, told Dawn (on Lytton Road) that wherever he moved in the city daily, he found labourers demolishing or constructing roads.

Tepa Chief Engineer Saeed Akhtar said his organisation had been entrusted with the task to implement this mega project worth over Rs16 billion from Gajumata to Shahdara. He said the Package-I of the project from Kahna to Kalma Chowk had been completed while the work on other packages would be completed by the end of August this year.

He denied comment on issues like waste of money or allegations of malpractices.

Tepa Managing Director Israr Saeed said: “Whenever mega projects like the BRTS are undertaken, the loss of money in the form of demolishing or removing the existing infrastructure carries no importance. It is a loss of Rs150 to Rs200 million but, on the other hand, we will get an innovative project that will transform the city’s transport system.”

He said Tepa officials were trying to save the removed poles, grills, signals and other material. “We are handing over such material to the departments concerned in order to ensure their reutilisation in future. He said the project was the ‘exact copy’ of the one implemented in Turkey.

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