ISLAMABAD: The controversial Orange Line Metro Train project will not be able to meet its Dec 2017 completion deadline, a senior technical expert associated with the project told Dawn.

Work on package-II of the project has been on hold after the Punjab government cancelled the contract awarded to the Maqbool and Calson Joint Venture (MCJV) and re-tendered the project to another firm, Zahir Khan & Brothers (ZKB).

Following the cancellation of the contract, the aggrieved side moved the Lahore High Court. According to the contractor’s counsel, the high court had on Oct 20 issued an order restraining the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) from announcing the name of the successful bidder in the re-tendering.

But the authority announced the name of the successful bidder, claiming that MCJV’s contract was cancelled due to ‘slow pace’ of their work.

The 27km Orange Line project is divided into two packages; one is being executed by Habib Construction, while the other – which includes the route from Chauburji to Ali Town – was originally awarded to MCJV.

The LDA says that while both Habib Construction and MCJV have completed 52 per cent of their work, no work is currently being done on package-II since the matter is in the court.

LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed admitted that the project would be delayed by the litigation and the authority would not be able to meet its Dec 2017 deadline. “A month-and-a-half has already been wasted and this case may eat up more time,” he said.

Asked why MCJV had been removed from the project, he said they were quite slow in their work. Although he conceded that the firm had completed 52pc of work, “they had no intention to compete the remaining 48pc”.

When asked why the contract was re-tendered to ZKB, which is already executing a number of development and road projects across the country, the LDA chief engineer said the company had submitted the lowest bid and won the contract. “We want to give new firms a chance, but they cannot meet our pace requirements,” he said.

MCJV’s Masood Shah claimed that their firm was to carry out work worth Rs26 billion and had completed jobs worth Rs18bn. However, the LDA awarded a fresh Rs11bn contract to ZKB, he claimed.

Mr Shah also alleged that two MCJV yards had been occupied by the authority and said the contractor had been forcibly evicted from the construction site.

The Orange Line project has already faced delays because of litigation from conservationists and members of civil society over the danger posed to national and cultural heritage sites in Lahore.

Published in Dawn November 21st, 2016

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