LAHORE – The 32-km long Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is likely to get another inauguration date as the current deadline (December 25) seems to be a far cry of the Punjab government’s claim about the completion of project.

The project has been repeatedly redesigned since its launch and the government has announced three inauguration dates for it. But the government representatives, including Dr Saeed Elahi, said they would not change the deadline this time and inauguration will take place on December 25.

Sources said that the project might be inaugurated on January 5. Whenever the constructors receive new directions from the government, they have to stop the work to modify the design, they said.

The BRTS will operate on Ferozpur Road from Gajumata (Kahna) to Shahdara and the Rs32 billion project has been divided into six sections. The sections three and four of the project, comprising 4.1km elevated lane from Qartaba Chowk to Data Darbar, were underway while the work on various other sections is still incomplete.

But the officials are upbeat about the timely completion of the project. They said: “The work on section-1 extending from Kahna to Kalma Chowk (10.1-km) has been completed within the deadline, the work on section-2 from Kalma Chowk to Qartaba Chowk (4.9-km) is being carried out and the construction of Kalma Chowk, Qartaba Chowk and Model Town More underpasses is underway.

However, sources say construction of the proposed bridge on Ravi River for the BRTS track is yet to be started. They said the additional projects of Kalma Chowk underpasses and signal-free Qartaba Chowk had not only increase the cost but also caused hurdle in its timely completion.

“Confusing decisions of the government and alteration in the design of the original project caused embarrassment for the government which had announced that the project would be inaugurated by the end of October, then by the end of November and finally on December 25”, the sources added.

Project director Mazhar Khan said the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) would succeed in erecting the structure of the entire project by this month.

Recently, the government had directed the department concerned to dig out Ferozepur Road and service lanes at Model Town Morr for the construction of an underpass.

Construction also started for underpasses at Kalma Chowk and the key intersections had been blocked for traffic.

Massive traffic jams have become a routine at Ferozepur Road due to the haphazard work, roiling citizens, who even do not have alternative routes to reach their destinations.

Sources said the provincial government has already bought buses to run on the road which is depicting an excavation sight of some ancient buried settlement.

“It was proposed that a public-private based body would be formed to run service but the body had not been constituted.”

The government has not even planned which body or authority would run the Metro Bus System after the completion of the project and to baffle the brain, even the paper work has not been for this purpose, sources added.

“A proposal is pending with the government to run the Metro Bus System in partnership with public private sectors so that such system can be made profitable,” divulged the sources.

An official said the Old Ravi Bridge would serve as the BRTS lane for section-and would be closed for general traffic. Mismanagement is evident at the part of the planners of the project as, according to some officials, they were still deciding what land is necessary to purchases for the BRTS route. They said a huge amount was required for land purchase for section-2, 3 and4 where people are also not want to sale their land. The Tepa planning director said it was a good idea to start work on the entire project simultaneously. “It will help finishing the project in the shortest possible time,” he said.