Lahore: Pakistan on Tuesday inaugurated the trial run of its first mass transit project, which is funded by China.
The Orange Line Metro train, which would complete 27 kms of distance in 45 minutes, will pass through the congested areas of Lahore where more than 250,000 passengers travel on a daily basis.
Punjab Minister for Transport Muhammad Jehanzaib Khan inaugurated the trial run. Following the inauguration, the project will formally enter in its completion phase. After the successful completion of the testing phase, the project is expected to open doors for the general public by March 2020.
In May 2014, China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pakistan to fund the Lahore Metro Rail project. In December 2014, China's Exim Bank agreed to provide a soft loan of around USD 1500 million.
Opposition PML-N celebrated the opening of the project saying it is a gift to the Lahorites from the Sharif brothers (former premier Nawaz Sharif and former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif) and the PML-N. On Monday the PML-N 'inaugurated' the metro train at a 'mock ceremony' here.
While the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party continued criticising the metro train project, telling the public that about Rs 30,000 crore spent on this project could have been invested in the provision of quality health and education facilities to the masses, its leaders say the government has reluctantly' completed the project to fulfill international commitment with China and a gesture that it owned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.
PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bokhari has termed it a wise decision of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar not to inaugurate the metro train as its credit goes to former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.
"The metro train could have been completed about a year ago if the PTI had not approached courts and blocked the development work for 11 months," she said.
Started in 2015, the project was to be completed before the July 2018 elections but was delayed because of a stay order issued by the Supreme Court.