ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court directed the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to pay Rs1 billion to construction companies of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also directed construction companies to complete Orange Line Metro train project on time or ready to pay fine on it.

Justice Nisar remarked that the apex court would oversee the matter and direct the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to not probe the matter unless the SC issues directives in this regard.

Naeem Bukhari, who was representing a private company, said that LDA does not want the project to be completed as they have not released Rs1 billion funds. The chief justice said that the companies would start the construction work once they get the funds.

Justice Nisar observed that payment of bills was crucial for the construction companies.

Top judge remarked that if construction companies failed to complete Orange Line Metro train project on time then a fine will be imposed on them. Failing which, the court shall impose a penalty on the development authority.

Meanwhile, counsel for LDA pleaded that it was essential to measure the progress of the project before making any payment. However, counsel for construction companies argued that the payment had already undergone a 22-month delay.

The counsel added that 97 percent of the project has been completed. Subsequently, the court directed LDA to pay off the construction companies by the next hearing and further directed construction companies to grant LDA Rs1 billion worth of bank guarantee.

The hearing has been adjourned till January 7.

Meanwhile, talking to a private TV channel, lawyer of Orange Train Line Lahore Shahid Hamid said keeping in view the public interest, the apex court had removed all lacunas being faced in this gigantic train project to be operational in July this year.

Shahid Hamid said that 97 percent civil work had been completed. He added the timeline had been given to start the Orange Line train to facilitate the people of the area.

The two construction companies would get the funds of 60 crores and 40 crores respectively, to complete the remaining work of the automated rapid transit system, he said.

The Chinese expert would do testing of the train and then will give ‘go-ahead’ for plying the train on track, he stated.

To a question, he said that 156 cities of the world had the similar transport system. He added it would be the cheapest transport facility for the public in the country. To another question, he said all over the world, the governments had provided subsidies to that transport system.

It is pertinent to mention here that it is an automated rapid transit system under construction in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. After operational on July 31, 2019, the Orange line would become Pakistan’s first metro rail line project.