Just ten days after its launch Lahore’s new Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) has suffered a significant accident. In Baghbanpura, Lahore a high-speed container of the OLMT crashed into a height gantry. The gantry which was located under the OLMT track crashed onto parked cars underneath it, some of which have been crushed.
In a video on Twitter made by an onlooker, it can be seen that the loading carrying truck fell from a steep height and crashed onto the gantry below which according to an official has been created to protect the cable lines that are essential for the trains to keep running.
The service was launched on October 25, 2020, and 22 trains currently traverse the tracks daily. The 45-minute one-way route is 27 km long and connects Ali Town and Dera Gujran. The route has 19 stations and the working hours of the service are from 7:30 AM to 8:30 PM.
Orange Line Metro Train: transport game changer?
Since it began construction several laborers lost their lives working on the OLMT. In January 2017 seven construction workers had perished in a fire that had started in a shelter for the project’s construction workers. Several others had been injured in the incident but this was not a solitary event.
Other serious incidents included workers being electrocuted, to construction workers being crushed by a falling wall, in their sleep. The human cost of the projects has been immense.
The workers had also partaken in a strike back in 2016. They had claimed that the government back then had been prioritizing the speed of the project over the health and safety of the workers.
Read more: SC orders completion of Orange Line train project by 20th May
Labour activists said then that the majority of incidents had occurred because laborers were not directly employed by the government or Chinese contractors, but by a convoluted network of Pakistani subcontractors who brought in workers from south Punjab on low wages and little health and safety protection.
How do Pakistani passengers comment on the "Orange Line"? Listen to what they say! https://t.co/QfvSXHGAV0
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) November 2, 2020
Other than the human cost of the OLMT, the financial cost of the project had been the subject of fierce political debate when the incumbent government was in the opposition. Then, PTI had strongly criticized the PMLN government for overspending on the project. The project is expected to cost 5 billion rupees a year in subsidies.
OLMT a source of altercations between the opposition and the government
The Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project was inaugurated last month with both the government and the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) laying claim to it.
Party member of the PLMN ‘inaugurated’ the OLMT project before the official inauguration at Lahore’s Jain Temple. The party members were carrying pictures of former Chief Minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif’s pictures while Khwaja Saad Rafique, a prominent leader in the PMLN had carried out the ‘ribbon-cutting’ ceremony.
Read more: Orange Line causes Mall Road closure
PML-N’s Ataullah Tarar also said that PTI had taken a deliberate stay order on the project to stop Shehbaz Sharif from inaugurating it.
Addressing the party members gathered for the PLMN inauguration, Khwaja Saad Rafique said that Shehbaz Sharif was under scrutiny for made-up allegations and lamented the government over delays in the project. Delays in the project had according to him cost the people of Pakistan ‘billions of rupees.’
Punjab’s Chief Minister had separately held an inauguration ceremony and had said that the project was part of the CPEC and an accumulation of relationships between Pakistan and China.
The Chief Minister had also said at the ceremony that the Punjab Government welcomes all development projects that may accompany the joint venture.
The chief minister had further revealed that the OLMT project will be provided with an Rs15 billion subsidy by the provincial government.
GVS News Desk