ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) have issued a letter of acceptance to a Karachi-based construction firm that recently won contracts for three major development projects.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will likely formally inaugurate all three projects, the Rawal Dam interchange, expansion of Korang Bridge and the P.W.D. underpass, online today (Thursday).

A senior CDA officer said: “We are all set to give a presentation to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday about the three projects. Our presentation is part of the prime minister’s schedule, [and he will] likely inaugurate the projects online.”

The contracts for the projects were won by a joint venture involving Maqbool Associates, which is developing the Zero Point interchange, and Calson.

A joint venture submitted the lowest bids for the Rawal Dam interchange, Korang Bridge expansion and P.W.D. underpass

For the Rawal Dam interchange, which is a directional interchange with an underpass and overpass, the CDA received its lowest bid of approximately Rs1.2 billion — 11pc less than the estimated cost - from the joint venture.

The project will be executed using the authority’s own funding and will be built on the junction of Murree Road and Park Road known as Rawal Dam Chowk. Traffic has become routine at this intersection because of the increase in population around Park Road as well as the number of educational institutions, government offices and housing developments established there.

CDA spokesperson Mazhar Hussain said this project was “the need of the hour” adding: “We are hopeful that after construction on this project is complete, traffic congestion will come to an end.”

He confirmed that a bid acceptance letter for all three projects have been issued to the successful bidder.

The other two projects — the Korang Bridge expansion and construction of the P.W.D. underpass, will be carried out on the Islamabad Expressway, where severe traffic congestion has been routine for the last 10 years.

As a short-term measure, the government has decided to widen the two-lane Korang Bridge to five lanes and build an underpass at the P.W.D stop.

The Expressway has several housing developments on either side and receives traffic coming from Lahore and other parts of Punjab, Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well.

CDA officials said that these two projects would address traffic on this road significantly.

Last week, the authority received bids of Rs628.5 million for Korang Bridge - 17pc less than the estimated cost - and Rs420m for the P.W.D. underpass - 19pc less than the estimated cost - from the Maqbool Associates and Calson joint venture.

A CDA officer said that provided that the release of funds flows well, all three projects could be completed within their time frames.

While discussing the lower bids, the officer said that the construction industry has faced a setback because of the coronavirus pandemic and contractors are submitting bids lower than the estimated costs in an attempt to keep their machinery and workers mobilised.

He said that almost all the CDA contracts in the last few months received lower bids. In the development of I-15/3, the CDA received a bid that was 25pc lower than the estimated cost. The CDA chairman will brief the prime minister on the development of I-15 on Thursday as well.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020