Work on Lai Expressway to be started from Swan Bridge

  • Sh Rasheed says the agreement to construct new expressway to be finalised within two weeks
  • Minister says no operation against slum dwellers; asks land grabbers to vacate state property

RAWALPINDI: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on Wednesday said that an agreement to construct the Lai Expressway would be finalised within two weeks in principle, as the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) has agreed to complete the project on BOT basis.

Talking to journalists, he said that the expressway would be started from the Swan Bridge instead of the Amar Chowk in Chaklala to facilitate maximum population. He said that the expressway would change fate of the citizens particularly living along the Lai Nullah as the citizens would be allowed to construct commercial buildings along the road.

He said that a complete map of the expressway would be issued within days. To a question, he said that the payments were given to the owners whose properties were acquired for the project. “I met the FWO authorities. Another meeting in this connection will be held today (Sept 27),” he said, adding that the motorists would be charged a nominal toll.

To another question, the minister said that the Pakistan Railways (PR) would start process within 15 days to recruit 2031 employees out of 23000 jobs announced for the department. First approval in this regard has been given while an advertisement would be published in the national dailies within couple of days.

He said that the recruitment would be purely on merit and 50 percent jobs would be for poor and deserving people. “We are going to take revolutionary steps for the up-gradation of the railways particularly during 100 days. The task given by Prime Minister Imran Khan would be completed at all cost,” he said. The railways speed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project would be enhanced up to 160 kilometres per hour, he said and expressed the desire to run the rail at 250 speed per hour.

Sh Rasheed said that 65 percent population of the country lives at both sides of the railway tracks. “We are going to introduce a revolutionary programme for the railways. Over 400 railways stations of 600 would be selected to establish industrial zones in adjoining areas,” he said. “We will make efforts for straight track from Kalowal to Jhelum eliminating unnecessary curves of 56 kilometres with a view to reducing one hour travelling time between Rawalpindi and Lahore,” he said.

He said that FWO has accepted their offer to complete the project. “We want to start 10 new trains during 100 days to facilitate the citizens. Faisalabad Express would be launched on Oct 1. We will double the freight trains,” he said. He said that the Pakistan Railways was charging dam fund surcharge, Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 10 on the tickets of economy and business class.

He said that the railways has increased fares for all classes for contribution to the Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams fund. He said that no operation would be launched against those living in the slums but the land mafia would not be spared. He also said that people who had illegally occupied land belonging to the Pakistan Railways should vacate it.

He said that the railway authorities have been directed to increase the number of cargo trains and bring a visible change in the PRs by adopting the latest technologies and innovative techniques. He said that the PRs would be strengthened so that it becomes financially stable. He said that PR has decided to install electricity metres at railway quarters which would help save Rs 1.3 billion.