LAHORE: China has agreed to give $1.6 billion loan to Pakistan under Preferential Buyers’ Credit (PBC) scheme for launching metro train project in Lahore.

Dawn has learnt that the Chinese prime minister in a recent meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in China has committed to funding the project under the PBC scheme.

The PBC is a Chinese Government Concessional Loan that refers to the medium and long-term, low interest rate credit extended by the China Eximbank and designed to fund manufacturing projects on infrastructure construction and social welfare in the borrowing country, which can generate promising economic returns or good social benefits.

Officials say since the Chinese premier has committed to collaborating with Pakistan financially in this regard, Shahbaz Sharif has given the go-ahead to its government to launch the project in November this year.

“The commitment made by the Chinese premier is not a small thing, as we will surely be able to launch the project with sufficient funds (Rs160bn approximately) in Lahore,” a senior official of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) told Dawn on Monday.

The official, who accompanied the chief minister during his recent visit to China, said the project would be launched from Thokar Niaz Beg to GT Road interchange via Multan Road, MAO College, Jain Mandir and Railway Station. “It will be the project (called as orange line) that will totally be elevated, having 27 kilometre length with 27 elevated train stations like the eight stations of the metro bus.”

The official said since the project feasibility and proposals etc had already been finalised, the government was determined to launch it by year end. Talking about the project’s time frame, the official said the government had set 27-month deadline.

“The time frame will strictly be followed, as the chief minister is very serious about getting the project completed on-time and wants state-of-the-art trains to be operational on the route soon after this,” the official said.

When asked about the land acquisition-related issues before launching the project, the official said according to plan there was no land acquisition so far. He said the decision to construct the elevated 27-km stretch was taken just to avoid such problems leading to affecting business activities of the people.

He said various government departments including LDA had jointly started work to complete procedure for getting funds from China.

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