Muhammad Sohail Janjua

Lahore Metro Bus Project was Pakistan’s first mass transit project, the likes of which have never been attempted before. It is because of this reason there was a serious dearth expertise for such a project at all level including government departments, contractors and consultants. Keeping in view his previous record of resolution, persuasive approach and leadership, Ahad Khan Cheema, a Pakistan Administrative Service (formerly District Management Group) officer, was exclusively handpicked to supervise and monitor the MBS project.

Exhibiting phenomenal courage Ahad Khan Cheema accepted the challenge, joined as DG LDA in March 2012 and completed the Metro Bus System (MBS) Project within a record time of 11 months. The biggest thing that goes to his credit is that this project was completed without relaxing even a single rule or regulation. With utmost transparency Rs 29.8 billion have been utilised in the short span of 11 months.

MBS Lahore is 27 km long with 3 flyovers, 18 at grade stations, 9 elevated stations with grade separated access, sliding doors, precision docking, level boarding, 104 escalators and 5 pedestrian underpasses. It is not just infrastructure development but development as a whole system which includes sensitive systems like Intelligent Transport System, E-Ticketing, Platform Screen Doors and Escalators etc. in addition to the civil works.

The biggest peculiarity of this project was that there was no client at the time of initiation of the project. TEPA/ LDA acted as both the execution agency as well as the client thus making the area of responsibility multi-fold. Only Phase 1 of the MBS project on preliminary design started in February 2012 whereas the Corridor design was finalised in May 2012. Various packages started from June to October 2012, yet the whole project was completed together in February 2013.

Ahad Khan Cheema with innovation and dynamism introduced management and technological synergy by virtue of which he successfully coordinated between various agencies LESCO, SNGPL, WASA, PTCL, NESPAK, Land Acquisition Collector and various contractors. Under his leadership 24/7 work culture was introduced, work continued in extreme weather and even on Eid the work did not stop. He set the example by being available on site at all odd hours and holidays. At many stages of the project various crises arose like design issues with NESPAK, disputes among consultant, contractors and TEPA, deviation from contractual obligations by contractors, delay in timelines, however all of these were resolved and managed by the officer very efficiently and effectively.

In the completion of MBS, many engineering feats have been achieved for the first time in Pakistan and these have only been possible due to the unremitting ingenious efforts of Ahad Khan Cheema. Second longest BRT flyover of Asia measuring 8.2 Km was completed in a record time of 230 days. This flyover has two elevated rotaries (roundabouts) which have been constructed for the first time in Pakistan. The flyover coupled with another 500 meter flyover of the project consists of 1049 piles (total length 45 km), 306 piers 275 transoms sand 2289 girders. Table span transoms and pre-cast transoms have been constructed in this project for the first time in Pakistan. Pakistan’s fastest rate of piling was less than 2 piles per day and in MBS project an average of 8 piles per day and a peak of 20 piles per day have been achieved. And a peak launching rate of 65 girders per day was also achieved. In the project 335,000 Cu.M concrete, 40,000 tons steel, 325,000 tons asphalt and 9 million man-hours have been used. Another very important part of MBS Lahore is the Model Town Vehicular Underpass which is Pakistan’s first full depth underpass. These are not merely statistics but reflect the achievement of the officer and that too in record time. The accomplishment of this daunting task speaks volumes of his dedication and professional acumen.

Under Ahad Khan Cheema’s stewardship the idea of MBS turned into a reality due to his restless efforts, dynamism and uncompromising integrity. This marvel will go a very long way in easing the hardships of the common man and also compel the privileged to let go of their vehicles.

MBS Lahore is a Gold Standard Bus Rapid Transit System, second to none in the world. Ahad Khan Cheema’s remarkable effort has resulted in massive travel time saving and fuel cost saving. MBS Lahore itself speaks of the officer’s great passion for public service.

In recognition of his outstanding and meritorious services in the field of Public Service, Ahad Khan Cheema has been conferred the award of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan. Governor Punjab Ch. Muhammad Sarwar decorated Ahad Khan Cheema, Director General Lahore Development Authority, with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, during the investiture ceremony of Civil Awards held on the eve of Pakistan Day at Governor’s House.

Talking to media after received award, Ahad Khan Cheema said, “I am thankful to Almighty on being conferred with the award of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz for executing Lahore Metro Bus Project. This was a great honour, not only for me but for my team of LDA and TEPA as well. This achievement was the result of dedicated prayers of his mother. Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif had conceived the idea of Metro Bus System and he personally led and monitored the project at every stage. But at the time of recognition, he forwarded my name for which I am thankful to him.”