Govt awaits green signal from China to launch ML-I bidding

Published October 29, 2021
The government expects final approval of the project soon as the process on the part of the Chinese authorities is under way. — AFP/File
The government expects final approval of the project soon as the process on the part of the Chinese authorities is under way. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The government has asked the Chinese authorities to allow it to initiate the tendering / bidding process for the Main Line-I (ML-I) project of the CPEC.

Any issue related to its cost revision will be solved at a later stage, the government says. It expects final approval of the project soon as the process on the part of the Chinese authorities is under way, Dawn has learnt.

“Since the $6.8 billion project has already been approved by the government, the ball is now in the court of the Chinese authorities concerned. There is nothing pending on our part,” Pakistan Railways Chairman Dr Habibur Rehman Gilani told Dawn on Thursday.

“They (Chinese) are keenly working these days for the approval of the project,” he added.

Asked about increase in the total cost of the project, Mr Gilani said the Chinese had been asked to do so if they think there is a need to increase the cost of the project (keeping in view its scope).

“But side by side, we have also requested them to at least allow us to initiate the tendering process. And if the cost of the project increases beyond 15pc in future, we may get the PC-I of the project revised at a later stage. Hope they will consider our request,” he said.

The chairman said the Rs30bn project for the rehabilitation of the 460km long decaying rail track from Khanpur to Sukkur would soon be approved by the government as the PR has already sent a PC-I to the quarters concerned.

National Assembly’s Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Chairman Sher Ali Arbab in a recent talk with Dawn had said the issues related to approval of the ML-1 were being solved on a priority.

“This is the project worth $6.8 billion already approved by the government under the CPEC. The Chinese say the cost estimation for the project is not according to its components. They say it should be nearly $8bn or so. So we have asked them to revise, discuss with us and justify the cost estimation revision since we have to pay interest on such huge money,” Mr Arbab said.

“They (Chinese) are now working on this.”

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021

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