RAHIM YAR KHAN: Political interference, bad governance, and a lack of accountability have caused significant delays to a railway flyover project in Khanpur, despite the tenure of two different governments.
In 2020, the then-industries minister, Khusroo Bakhtiar, approved the flyover on the main railway track near Punj Moori in response to the requests of the people living in the southern rural areas. The residents of Bagho Bahar, Mari Allah Bachaya, Mud Bhora, Sheikhan Bhatta, Neelgarh, Islamgarh, and nearby villages would experience long waits at the level crossing on Bagho Bahar Road. They had long wanted a flyover on the railway track to ensure smooth traffic flow on this road. The project was approved in 2020.
Work on the 400-meter-long flyover, worth Rs911 million, began in February 2022 and was scheduled to be completed in 18 months. The Rahim Yar Khan highway department was responsible for the civil work on the project.
Initially, there were two main obstacles to the project: first, the shifting of the electricity poles on Bagho Bahar Road from the site; and second, obtaining the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Railways (PR) as the flyover was being constructed on the main railway track.
The highway department began construction work on the project without shifting the electric poles or obtaining the NOC from PR. Initially, the pillars were installed, and later, the beams were completed. By the end of last year, 70% of the work on the project had been completed, but later, the civil work was halted due to some political reasons.
According to sources in the highway department, they sent five letters to the Multan Electric Power Company for the shifting of electric poles, while six letters were sent to PR to obtain the NOC.
Some residents of Khanpur claim that the ruling party MNA, Sheikh Fayyaz Ahmed, did not take an interest in completing the project because it was approved by the PTI MNA.
The residents further complained that the suspended work on the flyover badly damaged the sewerage systems of nearby localities, including Rahimabad, Faridabad, and Pakistan Colony. The nearby storeroom of the municipal committee was also affected due to the flyover.
However, MNA Ahmed claimed that this was a bogus project that was started without obtaining a feasibility report of passing vehicles from that location. He said that a nearby railway underpass was sufficient for the flow of traffic. He added that with his efforts, PR had issued the NOC and released Rs 150 million for its completion. He added that it would now cost Rs1 billion to complete it. Ahmed claimed that a mega sewerage system project was much better than this flyover.
Highways Executive Engineer Muhammad Shafiq did not respond to calls, and his superintendent also refused to provide any details regarding the delay of the flyover project.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2023