SAHIWAL: Because of a heavy increase in construction material prices, registered contractors are reluctant to accomplish the sewerage and sanitary pipelines projects of Sahiwal city.

Under the projects, 70-year-old pipelines are to be replaced with new ones under an Asian Development Bank’s Rs225 million ‘Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement and Investment Programme (PICIIP)’.

Dawn learnt the contractors have either left the contract or they are running it very slowly because a huge gap exists between the current prices of materials and those in the early months of 2021 when tenders were finalised.

Contractors say the prices of cement, iron and labour have gone high making it impossible for them to execute the projects at old prices, Dawn learnt from sources.

Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Awais Malik, who is also the city manager of the project, visited different incomplete spots in the city and asked contractors to accomplish the work. The halfway left projects have become a source of dust and disease in the city. He said dug-out spots must be filled at the earliest.

It is said around 15 to 20 feet deep pits have been dug to place an eight-foot-wide sewerage pipeline at Railway Road overhead bridge, Old Happapa Road crossing to Imamia College, Jahaz Ground, small industrial estate and the commerce college, Comprehensive High School Road to village 86/9-L and Noor Shah Road for the last six months. Likewise, 970-kilometre long water pipes for the provision of clean drinking water have been laid in the whole city, but hardly any contractor accomplished huge excavated work. In many places, the ground has been dug, and pipelines placed but without connection.

A source known to the situation said under this mega programme, city’s civic facilities are to be improved, but now the whole city is giving a look where cemented pipes have been dumped on roads while roadsides are dug.

Sahiwal city has a population of around 444,000.

This is the biggest project in the history of Sahiwal where intrinsic municipal problems, including the provision of clean drinking water, disposal of solid waste and improvement in sewerage/sanitation lines, would be done. Experts say the project will cater to the need of the population till 2044.

The project documents show Sahiwal city is divided into 12 sub-zones, called neighbourhood councils. It is said Rs2.2 billion, Rs8.8 billion and Rs301.7 million would be spent on clean drinking water supply, change of sewerage lines and purchasing of solid waste management equipment.

Under the new system, 554,000 citizens will get clean drinking water. It is said 547 km long contaminated water pipeline would be replaced, and the installation of 28 new tubewells, four new water reservoirs and 10 filtration plants would be done in the next two years. Similarly, a sanitation system that provides sanitation facilities to 1.05 million citizens would be installed.

It is learnt 91 km new trunk of sewers would also be laid, while 13 existing wastewater pumping stations would be replaced with two new centralised pumping stations which will reduce 15 per cent of electricity load to meet the two halves of the city.

Many contractors told Dawn it is not possible for them to accomplish the work at previous rates. The construction material cost has gone 100 percent up in the last 18 months or so.

An engineer engaged with the excavation and restoration of digging work told Dawn that a Chinese company and two local companies are operational at north and south zone of the city on sewerage, sanitation and clean drinking water pipe supply.

Many within the PICIIP admitted the work is running at a slow pace.

DC Malik said we are pushing companies hard to at least restored those areas where excavation has been done. He directed companies to arrange dividers on main roads for the safety of commuters.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2022

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