LAHORE - The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has resumed the construction work on the Signal Free Corridor project on Jail Road, after it was allowed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which overruled a previous restraining order of Lahore High Court.

In its verdict, LHC had declared the project 'illegal' and stopped LDA from starting any such new development project. However, the apex court dismissed the ruling which had also ordered the National Accountability Bureau to start an inquiry against director generals of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for their failure to comply with the law.

The SC held that in the absence of an elected Lahore Metropolitan Corporation (LMC), the execution of the project by the LDA is valid.

The disputed Signal Free Corridor Project was conceived by LDA in 2014 and included in its budget allocation for 2014-15. The construction of the project was awarded to the contractor on 19.02.2015, who had already spent Rs60 million on the project before the LHC issued interim order on 06-03-15 restraining the LDA from carrying out work.

Following the orders of Lahore High Court about two months ago, LDA stopped the construction work and started removing machinery from the construction site. Meanwhile, LDA filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the orders of LHC, which was accepted and later on turned out to be in favour of authority.

The LDA officials, present on the project site, told this scribe that they started cleaning and overhauling the machinery after the SC orders. “We are now only waiting for a green signal from higher authorities to restart the work,” they said.

Meanwhile, a group of traders carrying banners and placards in their hand came on the road the other day and staged a demonstration in favour of government and PML-N leadership. The traders, from ‘Lahore Banao Tehreek’, were of the view that the signal free corridor would prove to be a vital project and would help in flourishing their businesses.

This project includes construction of 7-kilometer long Signal Free Corridor from Qurtaba Chowk Jail Road to Liberty Roundabout Main Boulevard, Gulberg at a cost of 1.3 billion rupees.

The construction work will start in a couple of days and is expected to be finished within a period of about four months. The task of execution of this project was assigned to Habib Construction Services after bidding process which had also been contested by four companies including National Logistic Cell, ZKB-Reliable, Habib Construction Services and AKB-IKAN.

Giving details of the project, an LDA spokesperson told this scribe that the signal free corridor would start from Qartaba Chowk and will end at Liberty Roundabout.

“Two underpasses and seven signal free U-turns will be constructed under this project. The first underpass will be constructed at Shadman Chowk for traffic coming from China Chowk and going to Shadman Market.

“There will be uninterrupted traffic flow coming from Mall Road to Shadman and vice versa as a result of construction of this underpass. It will enable uninterrupted signal free traffic flow all along Jail Road.”

According to him, the second underpass would be constructed near Sherpao Bridge for traffic plying going towards Canal Bridge. Due to construction of underpass at Fawara Chowk crossing, there would be uninterrupted flow of traffic on Jail Road and Main Boulevard Gulberg, he added.

The spokesman further said seven signal-free U-turns would be constructed at Eden Center Chowk, Shadman Chowk, PIC Chowk, Canal Road, Zafar Ali Road, Fawara Chowk, Main Market Chowk and Zahoor Elahi Chowk crossings.

This signal free corridor will be located in the hub of the city accommodating best educational, health facilitation centers and business hub areas. The main objective of the construction of signal free corridor was to facilitate the commuters so that they will get rid of long queues and traffic jams at above mentioned junctions/crossings, the spokesman added.

“After making signal free corridors, there will be no traffic congestions in front of educational Institutions like Lahore College for Women University, Kinnaird College and APWA College. Remodelling of Liberty roundabout will help to avoid merging conflicts.

“Due to signal free corridors there will be time saving and easy access for patients and ambulances to Punjab Institute of Cardiology and Services Hospital. It will also help saving significant time and fuel of general public.”

Construction of four pedestrian bridges will also be constructed at a cost of Rs60 million along this route, he concluded.