LAHORE - Lahore Orange Line Metro Train will be completed by the start of year 2018, claimed Khawaja Ahmad Hassan while addressing a press conference yesterday.

Khawaja Ahmad Hassan who has also been tipped as Lord Mayor of Lahore Metropolitan Corporation in the local government system, said that stay by the Lahore High Court on the (11) points where national heritages exist near the Orange Line track, the government is suffering daily loss of five crore to six crore rupees.

Despite that loss and break in the construction of the project on these points, the project will be operational by the end of next year or the beginning of 2018, he claimed.

Hassan expressed his pleasure over the release of first tranche of $331.08million of the total loans of $1.62billion by the Axim Bank of China for the project. “This is the level of trust the Chinese leadership rests in the PML-N leadership,” he said recalling that opponents of the government picked many holes in the project and unleashed a maligning campaign on baseless ground but confidence of the Chinese government in PML-N government remained un-shaky and unaffected.

He said government opponents also made efforts to sabotage and malign CPEC but they failed which counts for another victory of the government and endorsement of its positive economic policies which were commanding huge acceptance among the public.  

Khawaja Hassaan said the Punjab Chief Minister through personal efforts convinced the lower bidders emerged in open bidding, to cut down cost of the Metro Train from $2.13billion to $1.47billion in addition to seeking civil side construction of the project by the Pakistan engineers which means the country would huge saving of $600million but also a mass of those experts whose would build their capacity to serve the country in future projects without going abroad to get the know-how. Similarly Nespak has benefitted from this project in a big way both in terms of dealing with such mega constructions and getting familiarity with the modern techniques in the field.

To a question Hassaan said that in the next leg after infrastructural development the government would embark on technology based projects that would boost up manufacturing side of the province.

When asked about Rs10billion loan obtained from the Bank of Punjab for the Metro Train and the volume of mark up on it, he justified this loans on the basis of worldwide trend of securing ‘bridge financing’ for such heavy projects. However, he did not clarify the interest ratio on this loan but wrapped it in a ‘home affair’ where local money was going from one to another provincial institution. 

To a question on the lingering Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, he said the government is very much mindful of this project and would complete the pipeline on its side.