LAHORE - People living and doing business along the route of under-construction Orange Line Metro Train Project are suffering heavily due to delay in project’s completion.

Talking to The Nation yesterday, citizens urged the government for timely completion of Rs165 billion project so they could avoid the miseries which they have been going through.

The deadline for the completion of civil work of Orange Line Metro Project is December 2016. After that, electrical and mechanical work will be completed by December 2017 and probably operational from January 2018.

Commuters have to travel through a bumpy ride as a diversion board is placed on Qazalbash Chowk, Raiwind Road.

Hafiz Zohaib, a resident of West Wood Colony at Raiwind Road, said: “Only a few minutes journey to Thokar Niaz Baig is taking more than half an hour. Moreover, the dust in air is dangerous for health, but nobody is taking notice of it.”

Sharjeel Sulemaan, a resident of Chauburji Quarters said that transportation was the biggest challenge faced by residents and office-goers living in nearby localities of Chauburji. “At night, it is almost impossible for us to travel on the road along metro train track as no street lights are installed,” he said.

Hamza Khan, a resident of Maulana Zafar Ali Khan Chowk (Lakshmi Chowk) vicinity, feared that several diseases were taking birth at the construction site of project.

A senior doctor, Dr Ahmed Saifullah said lungs-related diseases could occur to people frequently exposed in the polluted air. He advised to cover up the face to avoid diseases.

The 27-km project is divided; once completed will connect Raiwind, Multan Road, Mcleod Road, Lahore Junction and the Grand Trunk Road, and could ferry 250,000 passengers daily. Several environmentalists, non-governmental organisations and Unesco expressed concerns about the historical sites, including Shalimar Gardens - marked in the Orange Line design.

The Lahore High Court recently stayed construction of project on 11 historical sites.

Khaqan Khawar, a resident of Shalimar Town said that there were number of schools and universities located in the area and the construction work near Shalimar Gardens was causing traffic jam daily. He urged the government to pace up the construction work of Orange Line Metro Train.

“We were told that the project will facilitate people once completed, but the project sees not day of the light. I have a business of generator repairing at Multan Road, if the current state of uncertainty will prevail about the future of completion of OMT how I can manage my business,” said Faraz Ahmed, a shop owner.

He further said that the road leading to his workshop was completely vanished and means of transportations also vanished, which affected the business and made his and his workers’ lives miserable.

Nauman Gohar, a resident of Wahdat Road who travels to Sheikhupura for his job, said that the Multan Road that was carpeted few years ago disrupted for the Orange Line project. “Earlier it took me 15 minutes to reach Thokar Niaz Baig, but now it takes me more than double time due to massive traffic jams,” Gohar said while urging the government to cover up manholes located on Multan Road.

“It is very dangerous for the motorists and commuters to pass through such open manholes,” he warned.

The PML-N led government in Punjab headed by Chief Minister Shebaz Sharif has termed the project as people’s oriented and welfare project. Chairman Steering committee on OLMT Khawaja Ahmad Hassan says all possible resources will be utilised for timely completion of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project and ‘the deadline set for this purpose will not be extended despite various delaying factors.’

In a recent LDA meeting, it was told that more than 44 percent construction work of the project has been completed. The project has been divided into four packages.

So far 56 percent work on Package-I from Dera Gujran to Chauburji, 44 percent work on Package-II from Chuburji to Ali Town, 39 percent work on Package-III near Dera Gujran Depot, and 44 percent work on Package-IV stabling yard near Ali Town on Raiwind Road has been completed.