LAHORE - Chinese Exim Bank has agreed to provide Rs 162bilion soft loan for the Orange Line Metro Train Project.

A ceremony was held yesterday to sign the agreement between the Chinese Bank and the Federal Government.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahabaz Sharif, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Charge d affaires of Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, Pakistani Ambassador in China Khalid Masood, Provincial Minister Finance Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Provincial Ministers, Assembly Members, Chief Secretary, prominent industrialists, bankers, intellectuals, columnists and senior officers of federal and provincial institutions witnessed the ceremony.

Federal Secretary Economic Affairs Tariq Bajwa and Vice President of Exim Bank Sun Ping signed the documents.

The work on the metro project is already underway in the city. The 27.2 kiliometers long track of the Metro train comprises 25 stations from the origin near Raiwind to Wahra Gujjran, about 10 kms ahead of the Indo-Pak border, Wahga. The track has about 25kms portion elevated 40ft above the ground level with 12meter width.

The train running at minimum 80kms per hour speed, is estimated to carry 2.5lakh passengers to and for daily. The completion time of the project is 27 months, which the Punjab government is seeking to be curtailed to 24 months.

The technical knowhow of the project has been provided by the Chinese companies with a pledge to transfer the tech to the Punjab government.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif speaking to participants termed the project another milestone to cement the friendship of Pakistan and China and a unique chapter of trust between the two countries which will go into the history with golden words.

“Orange Line train is a valuable gift of Chinese government for the people of Pakistan”, the CM remarked. He said the project reflects the full confidence of Chinese leadership in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the love for Pakistan.

“The process of close economic cooperation between the two countries started two and a half years ago is spreading to every corner of Pakistan,” he said. He said that by extending help to Pakistan in the hour of need, China has proved to be reliable and sincere friend of Pakistan and credit for taking Pak-China friendship to new heights goes to the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The chief minister further said that Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project is also important in this respect that it will result in transfer of Chinese technology to Pakistan and creation of lakhs of job opportunities.

The chief minister said civil works of the project are being carried out by Punjab government which reflects the confidence of China in the abilities and capabilities of Pakistanis construction companies. He said that by utilizing its technology, such projects could be implemented in other cities. He further said that China Railway and NORINCO can subcontract electrical and mechanical works to Pakistani companies.

Shahbaz Sharif said that under China Pakistan Economic Corridor, China is making an investment of $46 billion in Pakistan and out of which, $36 billion are being spent only on energy projects. He said that people of Pakistan can never forget the close friendship and economic cooperation of China.

He said that the agreement of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project was signed in May last year and the reason for delay in the project is the sit-ins of last year which not only hampered this but also caused delay other development projects also.

He also thanked federal government for its cooperation and the entire team of Punjab government for their cooperation. He said a lot of time of the nation has been wasted during the last 68 years, however, it will be made up through acting upon the golden principles of honesty, commitment and hard work.

Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar addressing the ceremony said Shahbaz Sharif is known as man of action in China and he has proved this fact. He said Shahbaz Sharif is extending full cooperation in the efforts for resolving energy crisis. “Cooperation of Punjab government in other projects is proving very helpful in achieving the targets of development,” he observed. He said that collective efforts are needed for achieving the goal of a prosperous and an independent Pakistan.

Dar further said that the steps taken by the government to strengthen the national economy are yielding positive results and international institutions are also acknowledging this fact.

Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the agreement for funding of Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project has been signed between Exim Bank of China and the government and this mega project of infrastructure will help in the promotion of economy.

Vice President of Exim Bank of China said that Shahbaz Sharif visited China a number of times for giving a practical shape to this project. He said that the governments of Pakistan and China have jointly furthered this project and will work together in future as well so that this project could be given a practical shape as soon as possible.