Muhammad Yasir Chourbati
The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro bus is a 24 km (14.9 mi) rapid transit system that serves the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Pakistan. It uses dedicated bus
lanes for its entire route covering 24 bus stations. It has passenger carrying capacity of 150,000 daily. The entire length i.e. 8.6 km of Metro Bus corridor in Rawalpindi area is elevated structure whereas about 14 km in Islamabad shall be at-grade but made signal-free by constructing grade separations at various intersections. Functional elements at the stations include ticketing booths, concourse level passenger transfer, escalators, platform screen doors turnstiles for automatic fare collection and all other amenities for passenger convenience. A central ITS control room is also included in the project to control the whole operation of the Metro Bus system.
Initially the provision of a 10 lane underpass (2 Lanes for Metro Bus and 8 Lanes for mix traffic) along the 9th Avenue was proposed at Peshawar Mor intersection but due to traffic issues currently, one line is under construction. Government has planned to build two more lines in near future. The project was designed by NESPAK (National Engineering services Pakistan) but RDA (Rawalpindi Development Authority) and CDA (Capital Development Authority) is working as a consultant for the project. This bus project has been contracted to several companies over a budget of almost 50 billion rupees (around 500 million US Dollars), and will be divided into three main categories, the main bids being given to ZKB, National Logistics Center, And Lemak Reliable Joint Venture.
I work nearly the metro station at Chandni Chowk and being a Civil Engineer I am observing the project growth, which is going poles apart than the scheduled and planned. Firstly, I want to raise the key issues of the project due to which the workers and inhabitants were facing difficulties. No safety measure for the labors and the pedestrians to avoid from sudden accidents. Diversions were not provided for the traffic, flowing at the Murree road and its connecting road by the authorities especially by police wardens during construction. Fences were not installed to stop the access of the pedestrian to the construction site. Sign and signals were also not placed at the construction site, to make aware people about the process and progress of working. Water was not sprinkled on the road to remove the dust, due to the dust there is a danger of lungs cancer diseases evolution in the residing area and the commercial area along the Murree road. The above mentioned issues were just related to safety and security.
Beside these there was much negligence about the structural construction of the project. Completing projects with proper specification and standard is more important than its completion on time. Mostly heavy projects goes cost overrun and delayed which is not a big matter. Secondly I want to mention the structural faults of the main project. Piers are not properly aligned, have varying thickness from base to the pier cap. The pier caps have waves in it because of improper shuttering. The girders are not up to the mark at some places; bottom bars of girders are easily visible from large distance. The curves look like an edge rather than a proper traverse. Compaction is not done for the backfilling of underpasses just a roller was driven at the top to show the surface smooth. Top organic soil layer was not removed for the laying of asphalt carpet on the road. The slabs above the girders are not aligned and the pitiable construction and waves in the slabs are hiding by advertisement for PML-N for the metro.
Nearly the finalization of the project C M Punjab Shahbaz shareef visited the site to observe the progress of project. During his visit he indicated that the journey was not comfortable and the asphalt layer is not properly leveled. After his direction the top asphalt layer was removed from some spot of the metro project and fresh layer of asphalt was laid. This is an act of shame for the Contractors and the Engineers that a normal person is indicating the key negligence of the projects. These issues I had observed in one month but I don’t know what they had done in past whole year.
As a Civil Engineer I want to raise my voice for such blunders and negligence in these huge project which are designed to carry 15 million people daily. It is looking risky to ride on metro. To hide the main structural faults finishing was done at high demand. White washing twice, solar panel installation, plastering, runoff water pipes fixing, green belt formation and also advertisement has done to change the opinion of people from the structural fault.
Finally my observation is that the government had not paid proper attention on this project. The key issue is that the consultancy of this project was given to NESPAK earlier and was snatched by Punjab government after the completion of design stage and it was given to RDA (Rawalpindi Development Authority) and CDA (Capital Development Authority). RDA didn’t perform up to the mark because RDA is not designed for consultancy thus no one can expect a better progress from such authorities. All the issues happened such as safety, security, structural and operational issues due the above mentioned reasons. I am raising my voice to improve the standard of working on heavy projects and referring the government to form an inquiry committee to get rid of the negligence and the responsible person in the contractor and consultant firm.
The contributor is a graduate Civil Engineer from SSUET, Karachi and has established his own consultancy firm named as Chourbati Consultants Pvt. Ltd. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.