Monday, 19 June 2017

Contract of Shalimar express awarded for Rs. 1.8 billion

LAHORE -  The Pakistan Railways (PR) has awarded a two-year contract to S. Jamil and Company to run Shalimar Express on highest bidding of Rs. 1.8 billion.
An agreement signing ceremony in this regard was held at Railways headquarters in presence of Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. The contract has been awarded for two years on total amount of Rs. 1.8 billion while an amount of Rs. 1.9 million will be submitted to the Pakistan Railways in advance. Moreover, the company will make payment of Rs. 30.43 million weekly.
Around 12 companies had shown interest in running Shalimar Express including Daewoo, Al Baraka, Mazari Group and others but they could not win the project during the bidding. According to the privatisation agreement, the Pakistan Railways will hold trains operational system while private sector will hold train management.
Pakistan Railways was earning Rs. 660 million annually from privatization of Shalimar Express train during the last five years. The train that runs between Lahore and Karachi daily was given to private sector in 2012.
Later talking to media, Railways Minister Saad Rafique said that now the losses of the department have been reduced to Rs. 27 billion which were Rs. 33 billion in 2013. He said that after upgradation of railway track, trains will run at the speed of 160 kilometer per hour. He claimed that the condition of railways was much better than in 2013. He said Pakistan Railways had introduced e-ticketing system for 40 trains to facilitate passengers in booking their seats from anywhere across the country.
The minister said that with the passage of time the condition of all trains would improve, adding that criticism was good but positive steps should also be appreciated.

Alpha-Beta-Gamma Pakistan City Rankings

Created in the Geography Department at Loughborough University, this network focuses upon research into the external relations of world cities. Although the world/global city literature is premised upon the existence of world-wide transactions, most of the research effort has gone into studying the internal structures of individual cities and comparative analyses of the same. Relations between cities have been neglected by world cities researchers; the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Research Network has been formed to aid in rectifying this situation.

2016 -
2012 -

City | 2016 Rank | 2012 Rank

Karachi | #74 BETA | #82 BETA (Increased By 8)

Lahore | #103 BETA - | #127 GAMMA+ (Increased By 24)

Islamabad | #129 BETA - | #133 GAMMA+ (Increased By 4)

Chinese Fortune 500 company are among bidders for Pak railways upgradation

BEIJING: After a marked improvement in the country’s security situation, top companies in China that have a proven record of quality and safety are eying to clinch multibillion contracts to upgrade Pakistan’s dilapidated railways infrastructure under the $8-billion ML-I project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The China Railways Group – a Fortune 500 company known as CREC – and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the largest international Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor of Asia, are among the four Chinese companies competing for the $8 billion ML-I project.

Pakistan would pick one of them to complete the project in two phases.

During a visit to their headquarters in Beijing, officials from these two companies briefed a group of journalists from South Asia about their future investment plans under the One-Belt One-Road Strategic Initiative. The companies also arranged visits to projects they have completed in China. These include the world’s largest bridges, tunnels, roads and bullet trains.

“We are interested to invest in Pakistan and are looking for appropriate opportunities,” said Xu Meng, Deputy General Manager of Marketing Department of CCCC International. He said that CCCC was one of the four Chinese companies competing for the ML-I project.

“The CCCC is fully capable of building sound railways infrastructure in Pakistan,” said Xu.

“The security is no more a big challenge in Pakistan and the company has not experienced any major accident during its past two years of work,” said Xu. He thanked Pakistani authorities for providing foolproof security to Chinese nationals working on CPEC projects in Pakistan.

“The financing agreement for ML-I project can be signed next month on the sidelines of the OBOR Summit being held in Beijing,” said Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal, on Monday while talking to The Express Tribune.

In September last year, Iqbal had said that China would provide $5.5 billion in a concessionary loan for the expansion and renovation of Pakistan’s main rail link that connects north to south as part of its investment under CPEC. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) would provide $2.5 billion to cover the remaining cost of the project, he had said.

The CCCC was in negotiations with Pakistani authorities on financing and construction model of the ML-I project, said the Deputy GM of CCCC. The CCCC is one of the world’s largest infrastructure companies. It is also the largest international EPC contractor in Asia. In 2016, CCCC was awarded 108 projects worth $16.4 billion under the OBOR initiative, said Li Qingwei, Executive Vice President, CCCC International.

The company is also working on Karakoram Highway-II project of the CPEC and intends to complete it in March 2020.

Pakistan is a central part of China’s transition from a regional to global power. In its vast network of ports, pipelines, roads and railways, Pakistan and its strategic deep-sea port of Gwadar serve as a staging post for China’s economic rise as a global player. The port will extend China’s reach from the Indian Ocean to a number of regions.

The CREC of China Railway Group is one of the world’s largest construction and engineering contractors. It is one of the world’s top 500 enterprises, standing at 57 among Fortune World Top 500 companies in 2016.

The CREC has been pushing forward ML-I Railway Upgrading and Reconstruction Project in Pakistan, said the company’s officials during visit to its headquarter in Beijing. They said that South Asia was one of the most important marketing areas for the CREC.

The company official said that ML-1 Railway Upgrading and Reconstruction project is 1,872 km in length. It is composed of five subprojects, which is ML-1 line and 1,872 km upgrade of Harvey connection line, new line 2, new Harvey land connecting harbour, station comprehensive development and the renovation of railway institute training centre, respectively.

The early stage of the projects is the soft soil treatment, rail replacement, the reconstruction of the bridge culvert tunnel, reconstruction of crossing and vehicles, new lines construction and signal renovation, etc.

The company official said that project would comprise two phases – the short-term to be completed by 2020 and long-term by 2030. The short-term planning is further divided into two stages, which is Phase I to be finished in 2018 and Phase II, to be finished in 2020.  The long-term planning is Phase III, with an expected completion from 2025 to 2030, said the company official.

The CREC has set up a Preparatory Group of Pakistan ML-1 railway project that is in charge of the project promoting. At present, the official said, the company is in close collaboration with relevant state ministries and commissions in China and Pakistan to prepare the upcoming video meeting.

At the same time, it has arranged a setting for all contractors to optimise the construction organisation design and exchanged ideas deeply with project design team to learn the progress.

In addition, to be better prepared for the project, our company is negotiating related issues with Pakistan office in a timely manner, said the official.

All Entry and Exit Points of Islamabad to be equipped with Facial Recognition RFID System

All entry and exit points of the federal capital would be equipped with Radio Frequency Identification barrier by May this year enabling smooth entry and exit of the commuters and ensuring enhanced security of the federal capital.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has directed ICT Traffic Police to make intercity connection easier for the commuters.

The Minister directed Chairman NADRA to work on dovetailing the RFID system with facial recognition technology for enhanced security and facilitation purposes.

He has also directed that through the use of technology these points should be connected with the Safe City.

It was decided that additional lanes would be added, on need and land-availability basis, at all entry and exit points of the capital to ease traffic congestion at these terminals.

The decision was taken during high level meeting chaired by Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan at the Interior Ministry. The meeting was attended among others by Acting Secretary Interior Tariq Mehmood Khan, Advocate General, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, Chairman NADRA, IG Islamabad, and senior officers of ICT police, administration and Interior Ministry. Representatives of NHA and CDA also attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, the Interior Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the present state of traffic management on the main highways especially the roads linking the twin cities including the Express Highway, Kashmir Road and the Murree road.

The Minister observed that despite tall claims and rosy presentations, little improvement has been witnessed on ground in the traffic management system and citizens continue to face logjam during peak hours. This cannot go on, observed the Minister. He directed IG Police to personally monitor traffic situation and to ensure smooth flow of traffic especially on the highways with higher traffic volume.

The Minister directed that scientific methods should be adopted for traffic management with distinct traffic flow plan for the peak hours and lean timings.

The Minister directed ITP, NHA, CDA and NADRA for expeditious completion and operation of free lanes on the highways linking the twin cities.

He said that RFID tag system with distinct color would save the commuters from the hassles of frequent security checks at various police check points and would enable the ICT Police to ensure optimum utilization of its human resource.

The Minister also gave two weeks time to NADRA and ICT administration for working out modalities of cost calculation and issuance provision of RFID tags to the regular commuters.

The minister also directed NADRA to continue upgrading its systems and software so as to incorporate state of the art technologies in its database system. He gave two weeks time to Chairman NADRA to submit a detailed plan regarding upgradation of NADRA technologies and software.

He also directed that traffic on the roads of the capital should be organized and implementation of traffic rules should be ensured. The Minister directed ITP police to ensure wide circulation of public awareness campaign followed by strict implementation of the vehicle registration rules after the expiry of relaxation period of 15 days.

Non-implementation of traffic rules, tainted windows, fake or fancy registration plates should be discouraged thorough legal action against the violators, observed the Minister.

The minister also directed ICT Police, Traffic Police and NADRA for devising a mechanism for optimum utilization of SAFE CITY cameras for crime and traffic management. The presence of over 1950 cameras covering major all highways and arteries of the federal capital should be utilized in an optimum manner for curbing crime rate and to ensure smooth traffic flow in the capital.

Policing and counter-terrorism, said the Minister, are laborious tasks that need continuous efforts and optimum utilization of all resources available.

The minister directed the ICT Police and administration for greater attention towards improved emergency and response system in case any untoward incident.

Uber has finally introduced premium cars "UberX"

In addition to the reduction in fares of UberGo, Uber has finally introduced premium cars "UberX" in Pakistan.

“In line with our global business we will be introducing a new category, UberX, wherein riders will have access to more premium cars at reasonable prices.”

With the introduction of UberX, riders will now have three types of rides available to them through the Uber app, UberGo, UberX and UberAuto.

UberX rates:


Base fare - Rs.110
Per kilometer - Rs. 8.7
Per minute - Rs. 3.15
Minimum fare - Rs. 150
Cancellation fee - Rs. 170

Sample fares:

  • Liberty market to Model town from Rs. 200
  • M.M. Alam road to LUMS from Rs. 265
  • Arfa tower to Race Course Park from Rs. 270 


Base fare - Rs.110
Per kilometer - Rs. 8.7
Per minute - Rs. 2.50
Minimum fare - Rs. 150
Cancellation fee - Rs. 170

Sample fares:
  • Dolmen mall to Teen Talwar from Rs. 230
  • NIPA chowrangi to Iqra university main campus from Rs. 330
  • Tariq road to Do Darya from Rs. 350

Thats it!
To request a ride, simply select uberX from the slider options and tap 'Request uberX'.

Uber Reduces Fares for Lahore and Karachi by 20%

As of 6th April 2017, Uber will be reducing rates on UberGO in Lahore and Karachi by up to 20%. This means that not only will riders pay less for their trips but driver-partners will earn more through increased demand.
“Over the years, we’ve learned that the single most effective way to help driver-partners get more trips is to reduce prices for riders”, said Uber in a press statement issued moments ago.
Higher demand means driver-partners will spend more of every hour moving people, less time waiting around and therefore get more money. “This is exactly what happened when we reduced fares in cities such as Nairobi, Kenya and Bucharest, Romania. The increase in rider demand meant payments to driver-partners using Uber went up”, said the statement.
Old UberGo fares vs New fares
Pakistan price cut details are as following:
  • Old fares: Rs. 100 base, Rs. 6.84 per KM, Rs. 3.15 per minute, Rs. 150 minimum, Rs. 150 cancellation
  • New fares after Price Cut: Rs.80 base, Rs. 5.59 per KM, Rs. 2.50 per minute, Rs.120 minimum

Hundreds of thousands of riders across Pakistan already use Uber to get from A to B while Tens of thousands of drivers now use the Uber app across Pakistan.
While these price cuts are beneficial for riders, they are ultimately designed to help Uber driver-partners, claimed the statement. “This is because a driver-partner who is logged into the Uber app is doing one of three things: sitting idle while waiting for a trip, on their way to pick up a rider, or carrying a rider to their destination. Only the third scenario is when a driver-partner is earning a fare”, it said.
Speaking about the price cut General Manager for Uber in Pakistan, Safee Shah, explains, “We are committed to driver-partners and that Uber remains an attractive option for them – without them, we can’t help keep our Pakistani cities moving. We believe these price changes will help increase demand – meaning more paying passengers in drivers-partners vehicles and less dead kilometers between paying trips.
And while each city adjusts to the new prices, we are putting in place payment guarantees for driver-partners. Partner economics will be closely monitored, every day, to ensure that drivers using our app continue to thrive.”

MOU signed to establish Lahore and Austin as Science cities

LAHORE: A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) Chairman Dr Umar Saif and Mayor of Austin Steve Adler to establish Lahore and Austin as science cities.

Dr Umar, who is also founder Vice-Chancellor of Information Technology University (ITU), is on an official visit to the US.  He held meetings with US officials, academia and Steve and discussed PITB’s flagship programmes E-rozgaar, Wifi Hotspots, E-Learn, Digital Inclusion and Smart Transport solution.

Under the MoU, he said it was agreed to cooperate in the initiatives like organising bi-lateral trade, economic development and exchange missions to each city. Promotion of capital exchange and investment and exchange opportunities between Austin universities and ITU will enable both sides to prepare students for the future, he added.

Walled City of Lahore Authority to preserve historical Bhati Gate

LAHORE: One of the recognizable landmarks of Lahore is finally going to receive some of the tender, loving care it deserves. The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has sprung into action and is preparing the PC-1 to conserve the Bhati Gate and 1,500 adjacent buildings.

WCLA Media Deputy Director Tania Qureshi told that detailed documentation of the entire main bazaar and some nearby streets was completed in 2016 and team has since been working on architectural designs.

The restoration and rehabilitation process would be completed on the same patterns as the one used at Delhi Gate (Royal Trail). “Two major components of the work at the Bhati Gate will be facade restoration and infrastructure development. Meanwhile, the route will be made like a trail for tourists,” she said.

“Moreover, the facade improvement will be carried out on the basis of drainage flow as it was done in the pilot project inside Delhi Gate on the Royal Trail,” Tania highlighted.

The main bazaar of Bhati Gate is home to the residence of Allama Iqbal and renowned streets such as Koocha Faqir Khana, Sheesh Mahal Ghatti, Moti Tibba, Gali Muhammad Judge Latif, Faqir Khana Museum, Mubarak Haveli, Naqsh School of Arts and Gali Molana Rohi, among others.

WCLA Director Conservation Najamus Saqib said the initiative would be another marvel restored after the Royal Trail.

“We have carried out detailed documentation on the Bhati Gate and also used it for the geographic information system. The PC -1 is now under process and will be soon sent to the Planning and Development department,” he said. “We are all set to start work on this project as soon as the PC-1 is approved as the amount has already been sanctioned,” he added. WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said the authority planned to start simultaneous work inside different gates of the walled city.

“The Bhati Gate is one of the most important gates of the walled city of Lahore as its streets carry the story of the heroes of Pakistan,” said Tania. She added many legends of the country belonged to the area, including national poet Allama Iqbal.

“This is already a much visited tourist trail and after rehabilitation, it will become another wonder for locals and foreigners,” she said.

Briefing on revaming of Lahore Jinnah Hospital

A briefing session on revamping of Jinnah Hospital was held at the hospital’s Conference Room under the chairmanship of Principal, Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital, Lahore.

According to a handout issued here on Friday, Medical Superintendent Dr Sohail Saqlain, faculty members as well as hospital administration and consultants of Infrastructure Development Authority Punjab (IDAP) attended the meeting.
The Portuguese hospital Architect Mr Petro through a video link gave detailed briefing and presented proposed architectural drawings. Dr Sohail Saqlain elucidated the objectives of the meeting and emphasised about the importance of suggestions from the end users. He informed that as Jinnah Hospital is in the wake of transformation in the hospital structure, services and placement of adequate IT system to ensure quality in service through enforcement of prescribed standards.

AIMC Principal Prof Rashid Zia stated that involvement of all stakeholders will enable us to firm up final architectural drawings according to their needs. He informed that the suggestion should be based on their genuine problems and must address the issues of hospital structure, space, functioning etc.
He reiterated that the plan finalised at this stage should not have any loopholes. It was decided that faculty will discuss and share their suggestions with the IDAP consultants in next couple of days.

Monday, 12 June 2017

NADRA facilitation center to facilitate citizens 24 hours daily

LAHORE: NADRA facilitation center has brought good news for citizens in order to facilitate them in a better way than before. The facilitation center will be providing services to citizens 24 hours on daily basis for making of ID cards and passports.

NADRA facilitation center has been inaugurated which is located near Shimla Pahari. Citizens have expressed utmost contentment on the opening of this new office as it will pace up the process of ID card as well as passport making.
The center has begun to work properly from today with better services for citizens in order to facilitate them without any trouble in time. Locals can visit here at any hour of day as it will be serving 24-hours.
The offices which were located in the areas of Baghbanpura, Swami Nagar, Abbot Road, Ravi Road and Liberty have been shut down.
This facilitation center has space to accommodate around 400 of the visitors at a time. 48 counters have been made to facilitate citizens to pace up the process. The citizens have shown great satisfaction and remarked that more such centers should be opened across the city.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Karachi to Hyderabad motorway (M-9) likely to be opened on August 14

ISLAMABAD: The National Highway Authority (NHA) is all set to complete the Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9) by August this year, almost seven months ahead of its scheduled completion date.

The project is likely to be inaugurated on August 14, well before the time in view of its unusual importance as around 80% of the trade activities in the country are going to be linked with this route.

The cost of the project is Rs44 billion and, once completed, it is likely to bring a revolution in terms of connecting the country’s vital economic centres with the upcountry by facilitating the movement of heavy commercial vehicles originating from the Karachi Port and Port Qasim.

It will also facilitate the traffic coming from Karachi Northern Bypass (KNBP) and Makran Coastal Highway (MCH), say the documents available with The Express Tribune.

Connecting the country’s two important commercial centres – Karachi and Hyderabad – the M-9 will carry around 35 thousand vehicles every day. These vehicles include 18-20 thousand heavy commercial vehicles originating from Karachi Port and Port Qasim, according to the documents.

The project was started in September 2015 under public-private partnership as the government was short of funds to finance this project. The Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) is its contractor and concessionaire.

The first 80km-long section of the motorway has already been successfully completed. It was inaugurated in February 2017. “It is one of the mega projects on which the government has not spent a single penny,” said NHA spokesperson Kashif Zaman.

He said the M-9 was being built according to the best international standards along with a 200 km-long 4-lane service road, which means 2-lanes on either side of the motorway. “This is the first motorway in Pakistan that will have four-lane service roads on either side, as usually there is fencing,” he said.

He said it will have 8 new interchanges at Malir, Dumba Goth, Lucky Cement, Power Cement, Noriabad, Thano Bulla Khan and Bolari. These interchanges will link the adjoining areas with the motorway thus facilitating the movement and boosting economic activities.

Meanwhile, in order to facilitate smooth movement of traffic and minimise risks of accidents, provision of proper diversions has been ensured during the construction.

“The rest areas will be equipped with all essential facilities such as restaurant, medical centre, mosque, fuel station, mini workshop, business centres and toilets,” he added.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Lahore Picture wall prototype project begins

LAHORE - The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), in partnership with Aga Khan Trust for culture (AKCSP), has started the conservation of some parts of the Picture Wall.

The objective of the Picture Wall Prototype (PWP) Project is to work out a strategy for conservation of the Lahore Fort Picture Wall by restoring a selected area.
This could provide an enabling platform to discuss the special conditions and requirements of the conservation of the entire PW in an international workshop to be held in June 2017 to review the prototypical interventions made lately, with the aim of defining a satisfactory course for the completion of the conservation work.

Foreign experts on conservation have also been involved and taken on board for this project, which was initiated in November 2016. Earlier in September 2015, AKCSP began the documentation of the Picture Wall with financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and facilitated by WCLA.
The first phase of the project involves the complete documentation of the 350’x50’ western section of the Picture Wall. Thus far, the architectural documentation of the facade using Electronic Distance Measurement devices has been completed and high resolution rectified photography is in progress. The site has also been recorded as part of a demonstration for 3D laser scanning, which will be used extensively in future phases of documentation.

Established as the world’s largest mural, the 1450’x50’ Picture Wall was exquisitely decorated with glazed tile and faience mosaics, embellished brickwork, filigree work and frescos during the Mughal period in the reign of Jahangir in 1624 AD and completed under Shah Jahan’s reign in 1632 AD.
Each individual mosaic gives us an insight into the life and entertainment in the royal courts, such as battles scenes, royal portraits, mythical creatures, dance and music and geometric patterns; these unique elements became the principal reason for the Lahore Fort being declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1981.

WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said: “This will be another unique project by the Walled City of Lahore Authority. I am grateful to Aga Khan Trust for Culture for this partnership and taking keen interest in the heritage of Walled City Lahore.”
“This Picture Wall is the world’s largest mural and tile mosaic wall which was built in the Mughal Era. This is the real beauty of Lahore Fort and unfortunately it was neglected. I am hopeful that with this conservation project we will be able to save the fading away colors of the wall,” Lashari told The Nation.
Rashid Makhdum, Consultant/Senior Architect Aga Khan Trust for Culture, was of the view that this prototype project will enable them to check out the results of the conservation.

Buildings will be preserved through GIS by WCLA

LAHORE: Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) has completed installation of the first-ever Geographic Information System (GIS), which will now help the authority to preserve and monitor over 22,000 buildings, including important heritage sites inside the walled city, in a scientific manner.

The GIS system was installed at a cost of Rs20 million, officials said, adding the project was completed in three years. They said this system will also be used for surveillance and monitoring through android Apps and GIS.
The officials said all the relevant machinery had been installed while the WCLA staff was trained by Aga Khan Foundation and Urban Unit to operate the system. They said the GIS system will integrate hardware and software data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. After completion of this system, the WCLA officials are now able to effectively monitor various sites in the city, which is one of the most important aspects of conservation, said Tanya Qureshi, a senior WCLA official. She said effective monitoring is necessary to ensure that conservation goals are being met and to allow timely recognition of potential threats and emergencies. WCLA is now enforcing building and zoning regulations with the help of this system while officials are also categorising the type, height and nature of buildings as well as identifying land use and analysing environmental and social impact assessments.
She said the system is helping in solid waste management, its collection and disposal, to monitor storm drainage system and sewerage network in the walled city. The system is also helping in identification and rectification of problems related to industrial and commercial activities.
With GIS, WCLA is planning to introduce better management system for transportation network and facilities while a special cell is constituted to monitor freight vehicles moving in the city. Tanya said the system is also being used in rehabilitation of historical buildings and monuments and management of utility networks to increase the efficiency of WCLA. She said instant reporting of violation of building regulation or environmental codes will be identified using the android technology linked up with the GIS. She said that tourist guide maps and android apps for navigation and guidance will also be introduced to facilitate tourists and citizens.
This system will provide a unique tool to WCLA for site maintenance which may include scheduled cleaning or repair of signs and tourist facilities, repair of fences, application of stone preservation products, anti-graffiti treatments, etc, said Tania, adding this system is very useful in the maintenance of large sites. 
GIS-based maps and visualisations greatly assist in understanding situations and in storytelling. They are a type of language that improves communication between different teams, departments, disciplines, professional fields, organisations, and the public, she maintained. One of the WCLA’s primary responsibilities is to maintain authoritative records about the status and change of geography. GIS provides a strong framework for managing these types of records with full transaction support and reporting tools, said a GIS expert of WCLA.
He said the benefits of GIS included more accurate and accessible documentation of sites, and improved monitoring, maintenance and planning of sites. Costs include computer hardware and software, training and support, and data acquisition.
He said that an important benefit of GIS is that it allows spatial information to be displayed in various ways, in essence creating customised maps, charts and statistics, rapidly enough to perform complex analyses.

TYPSA reveals the Preliminary design of Lahore Twin Tower project

After Karachi and Islamabad, Lahore will also get its very own Twin Tower in the Central Business District of the city. Well renowned engi...