The proposal to expand Lahore’s Qainchi flyover has gone from being envisioned as a convenience to a significant source of annoyance for nearby commuters and households. The project’s enormous delay in completion has caused several traffic problems and environmental issues in the neighbourhood.
As the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) struggles with this enormous task. The project has become a constant source of frustration for the organisation. Due to the air pollution caused by dust and carbon emissions, residents, pedestrians, business owners, and drivers suffer from respiratory conditions, coughing fits, and chest infections. The intrusive noise pollution has disrupted their once-calm lifestyles.
The delay in Lahore Bridge project has encountered a number of challenges. The initial date was of September 2021. Lesco’s failure to comply with planned power shutdowns, Pakistan Railways’ refusal to issue a no-objection certificate, and several operational issues combined to obstruct progress.
The bridge expansion remained in limbo while the nearby Gulab Devi subway project was completed in June.
An LDA survey undertaken before the project started revealed the urgent necessity for the Lahore bridge extension. The study found that the present Lahore bridge was congested due to its short width of only two lanes. Notably for traffic travelling towards Gajjumata and Kasur from Kalma Chowk.
However, due to a broader three-lane stretch on that side of the bridge, there were no such obstructions for the flow of vehicles from Gajjumata and Kasur towards Kalma Chowk. To enlarge the bridge towards Gajjumata and Kasur, the authorities started building a second, two-lane flyover next to the current one, separated by a one-meter gap.
The lengthy process of obtaining the required clearances, non-compliance with power shutdowns to prevent electrical accidents, and the difficult task of relocating poles, wires, and cables for reasons such as Ramazan, Eid, Muharram, and weather conditions have all contributed to the slow progress of this bridge expansion.
The delay in Lahore Bridge project received a boost from the recent stop by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The Lahore Electric Supply Company’s refusal to stick to the planned power shutdowns hampered the LDA’s progress. It prompted the Prime Minister to take stern action and suspend a top officer from the company.
The LDA remains optimistic that the extended segment of the bridge will be available to traffic by May 31. The authority claims it is not to blame for the earlier delays. It has given its engineering wing instructions to complete the project as per the new schedule.
During a recent meeting, Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa stressed the severity of the issue by harshly warning officers. There will be no concession after the final date of 31 May. Lahorites impatiently await a conclusion as the minutes pass. Hoping for easy traffic and a return to normalcy in their everyday life.