Railways to invite bids for $6.8bn ML-1 CPEC project

Published September 10, 2020
Details on the financing arrangements are still unclear. — File photo
Details on the financing arrangements are still unclear. — File photo

LAHORE: Pakistan Railways (PR) is all set to invite bids to tender for the country’s first and biggest transport sector project —Main Line-1 (ML-1) — from Sept 12. Bidding documents have been prepared. The completion of USD 6.8 billion project titled “Up-gradation of ML-1” has been divided into three separate packages —Nawabshah to Rohri / Sukkar, Multan to Lahore & Walton Academy and Lahore to Lalamusa & Kaluwal to Pindora sections, Dawn has learnt.

Through invitation of bids which will be made public from September 12, the railways ministry will seek expression of interest for up-gradation of the aforementioned packages of the ML-1 in EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) mode from eligible Chinese firms on the basis. Details on the financing arrangements are still unclear. The invitation for bids simply says the “project will be funded under CPEC financing arrangement through loan from Chinese Financial Institutions and partly funded by Government of Pakistan.”

“Under the framework agreement signed between People’s Republic of China and the Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, only Chinese companies / consortia are eligible to participate in the bidding process, the invitation reads. The PR has also set a deadline of October 22 for submission of bids for the project.

Only Chinese firms to be eligible for bidding

The ML-I project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) in its meeting in first week of last month. Under a proposal the federal government plans to contribute 10 per cent of the total cost of the project as its equity while 90pc cost will be met by China under the CPEC.

Since the PR is responsible for providing right of way of the project, it has almost completed acquisition of the land required between Lalamusa — Pindora section. This has been done for changing of the route (realignment) that will reduce 20km of travel distance.

The project involves laying of new track to allow 160km/per hour speeds for railways, rehabilitation and construction of bridges, provision of modern signaling and telecom systems, replacing level crossings with underpasses/flyovers, fencing of track, establishment of dry port near Havelian and upgrade of Walton Training Academy (Lahore).

CEO

Pakistan Railways couldn’t have new Chief Executive Officer since retirement of Mr Dost Ali Leghari on September 5. “Though the PR, about 15 days before, had sent summary containing a panel of six officers to the Prime Minister office through the cabinet division for appointment of new CEO, the decision is yet to be taken by the PM. “Since there is no CEO for the last 5 to 6 days, the ministry may entrust someone the charge of the PR’s CEO/Senior General Manager by Thursday (Today),” said an official source. He said.

Meanwhile, the railways ministry on Wednesday entrusted Mr Farrukh Taimur Ghilzai (a BS-21 officer) working as secretary (railways board) with the charge of the Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services (PRACS) in addition to his current job. A notification has been issued in this regard.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2020

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