LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday inaugurated the largest underpass in the city that is also the largest in Pakistan.

Built on Canal Road, it has been named as Beijing Underpass in recognition of China's huge contribution to development projects in Pakistan.

After inauguration, the chief minister visited the underpass and inspected parts of it. The 1.3km-long underpass has been completed in a brief period of 125 days. The Beijing Underpass is 5.1 meters high and any kind of traffic can pass through it. As many as 250,000 vehicles will pass through it daily. Besides, completion of this project has provided signal-free access to Canal Road from Thokar Niaz Beg to Harbanspura.

Talking to the media after inauguration ceremony, the CM said the Beijing Underpass project had cost Rs3.5 billion and this was Pakistan's largest underpass . “I heartedly congratulate the people of Lahore at the wonderful and timely completion of this project,” he said. He further said that this underpass of 1.3km was a masterpiece of architecture that would improve flow of traffic. He said that rail tracks had also been built on this underpass to facilitate movement of trains.

The chief minister said that Pakistan and China cherished a close friendship and “we are grateful to Chinese leadership and people for giving us the striking gift of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This gift expresses their love for Pakistani people and we are proud of it.” He added that China had invested more than Rs60 billion in CPEC and this economic plan would bring prosperity in the region. He said that Pakistan as well as the entire region would witness a new era of development after completion of the project.

Earlier, the LDA director general briefed the CM about the project. Members of the national and provincial assemblies, Consul General of China Long Dingbin, Punjab chief secretary and senior officials of the Punjab government were present on the occasion.

Also, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Sunday that after Lahore and Multan, the Speedo Bus Service would be launched in Lodhran and Bahawalpur districts soon. “Delivering standard, rapid and modern transportation services to people is our primary priority and billions of rupees have been spent on these projects,” he said.

The chief minister said this while addressing a meeting on the metro bus service and related issues. He said the Metro Bus Service had assumed a compelling part and millions of people were reaching their destinations every day through this service. He said the latest system of Metro Bus Service had brought about a groundbreaking change in the transport sector. He added that launch of the Speedo Bus Service for convenience of citizens was a revolutionary step of the Punjab government as Speedo Buses in Lahore and Multan have provided public with best travel facilities.

Likewise, all arrangements have been completed for launch of Speedo Bus Service in Lodhran and Bahawalpur. Moreover, the CM said that this wonderful bus service would be a gift of the Punjab government to people and the latest system of e-ticketing had been introduced at these buses.

Provincial Minister for Transport Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, MNA Mehar Ishtaiq Ahmed, Adviser Dr Umar Saif, the Punjab chief secretary, chairman of the Planning and Development Department and other officials attended the meeting through video link from the Civil Secretariat. Deputy commissioners of the concerned districts and commissioner of the Bahawalpur Division participated in the meeting through video link.

Separately, Federal Minister for Energy Awais Leghari called upon Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif here on Sunday.

Talking on this occasion, the chief minister said the current government had overcome darkness in the country whereas previous rulers did not take any initiative to end the energy crisis. He said the credit for wiping out loadshedding in the country goes to the government of the PML-N. He said loadshedding has become a history now. He said that despite hurdles put up by some political rivals, power projects were completed in record period. He said that some elements tried to delay every project of public interest, including energy projects, and today they are ashamed of their deeds.