BY MUHAMMAD HAMZA KHAN
LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday inaugurated the first set of bogies that recently arrived from China for Lahore’s Orange-Line Metro project.
Speaking during a ceremony marked to celebrate it, CM Shahbaz Sharif said: “The project upon its completion will provide modern, safe, swift and affordable transport facilities to the commuters whereby 250,000 commuters will travel via Orange Line train daily.” He added that a distance of 27 kilometres from Darogawala to Thokar Niaz Baig will be covered in just 45 minutes.
The scope of civil works on the project involves the construction of a 27.1-kilometre metro train corridor, including 25.4km of elevated U-shaped viaducts and 1.72km underground sections, 24 elevated and two underground stations, depots, stabling yards etc. The train, with five coaches, an energy-saving air-conditioning system and systems configured to handle unstable voltage, has been produced by China CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co, Ltd.
Due to the unavailability of a mass transit network, people have no option but to go in private vehicles or get aboard decades-old and uncomfortable public transport resulting in air pollution and traffic jams. Because of their insufficient number, travelling through these buses is hazardous, unsafe and fatal at times. Passing through the busy commercial and densely populated areas of the provincial metropolis, the track of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train provides the shortest link between the eastern, central and southern parts of Lahore.
It will connect far-flung localities to the employment, as well as education centres, of the city and situated along the route of UET. The project will also decrease the number of vehicles on roads resulting in significant reduction in traffic congestion and air pollution besides significant saving in fuel cost and travel time. In this backdrop, Orange Line Train can be described as a revolutionary project.
While addressing the ceremony, the CM had said that if progress is hindered, there would be a bloody revolution. Some analysts misinterpreted his statement that if the project is stopped, there would be a bloody revolution.
Those critics do not understand what he meant was that completing welfare projects would benefit the people of Pakistan. Secondly, improving health and education facilities, and by providing jobs to the unemployed will usher in a new era of progress and prosperity. In September 2014, while regularisation of 52,000 Lady Health Workers (LHWs) employed on a contractual basis, he had warned the elites during his address at the function. He had said that equitable distribution of resources will have to be ensured otherwise there will be a bloody revolution.
He has the vision and can see the unrest seething below the otherwise calm waters. He believes that revolutionary steps are imperative to ensure socio-economic justice in the society.
It would be pertinent to refer to his repeated call for improving the lives of the common people. Addressing the 2nd Convocation of Sheikh Zayed Medical College at Rahimyar Khan in April 2014, Shehbaz Sharif had stated: “If we fail to change the current system on war-footing, a bloody revolution will wash away everything that comes in its way.”
It goes without saying that improved health contributes to greater productivity and reduces the healthcare burden on the economy. Provision of primary and secondary healthcare has gained increased importance with the increase in the incidence of poverty, as about 90 million people live below the poverty line. Our leaders have remained indifferent to the problems of the hapless millions for whom it is difficult to keep their body and soul together. It is perhaps in this context that Mian Shehbaz Sharif has more than once said that if things do not improve, there could be a bloody revolution in the country.
In June 2010, speaking at the award ceremony for position holders in various examinations, he had presaged a revolution if national resources were not spent on the poor to improve their living. True enough that spiralling inflation, widespread unemployment, rising poverty, deteriorating law and order situation are ingredients to create a stir in the society, but revolutionary changes can take place only when conscious efforts are made by a visionary leader who has credibility.
Anyhow, if the opulent classes do not share their prosperity with the indigent, they will have to share the misery with the latter or perhaps lose everything.
Shehbaz Sharif seems concerned about the plight of the common man; he should continue to draw the attention of jagirdars, industrialists and big business including members of his party and members of bureaucracy to work in unison to ameliorate a lot of the common man.