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Urban Development

Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project: A Critical Review

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The mega projects are kind of integrated activities which can be classified as projects having high complexity in terms of technology and human usage. These projects are usually of greater costs and for the broader development of a state.  They are of extreme physical structure, high capacity working, expensive and under huge attention of public and government.  The mega projects can be of different sectors like energy, infrastructure, and communication and others. As these projects are launched with bigger aims, the economic units are also measured in million dollars. For this gigantic amount, a developing country like Pakistan has to make a plan or strategy for its long term functioning. Since 2015, Pakistan has signed a number of mega projects with china under the flag of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), not just with China but with other states also. 

Mega Projects in Pakistan

In addition to that, a number of developmental projects are domestically initiated. These projects include transport like railway, airports, highways, buses, power plants, dams, economic zones etc. The rationale is to get collective benefits and to open frontiers. The policy makers are always looking forward to the mega projects for their economic, political, technological and aesthetic sublime. The greater concern in starting these kinds of project revolves around the issue of higher costs. Many critics expressed that these projects need hard core planning for taking them upon considerations as there are high stakes involved specially for the country like Pakistan. The focus here is to find out the issue areas that should be examine for the success of large scale projects. The project under study is Lahore Orange Line Metro train (OLMT). 

Lahore Orange Line Metro train (OLMT)

The demand and supply in the urban lines of traffic has been increasing widely specially in a Lahore as it the second largest urban sector in Pakistan. The need of mass transit system was long felt and in May 2014, the project was signed between Pakistan and China as memorandum of understanding and is expected to be completed by 2017. As Christopher Midler explains the innovation of developmental ideas, this project was also innovatively commissioned for the development of long-term mass transit network for the feasibility of transport in the city. The financing was started in 2015 with the soft loan of 1.55b dollars. The phase 2 of the project started in 2016 and first test ran in 2018. This project has been through a bumpy road of non-completion and expected to be completed this year in October 2020.

Critical Analysis

Denicol has executed six themes of analysis, after analyzing literature of good 86 articles, which are considered as conceptual framework to review the project of OLMT. Following are the themes which will help critically analyze the OLMT project:

1. Decision-making behavior

The poor performance through decision making is significantly related in literature of mega projects. This is due to the behavioral faults and faulty assessments with regards to the benefits and cost of the project. In addition to that, executives of the project usually misrepresent the trust in order to satisfy their personal interests. The behavior of the decision makers are resulted in unsuccessful outcomes as their behavior towards policies are obstinate and inflexible. 

In the OLMT project, it was assessed that it will be completed by 2017 but unfortunately not completed yet. Every passing year, the government announced the running of train for public in particular year. This has been delaying due to the defective evaluation and calculation of time with respect to finalization of project.

In addition to that, the cost of project was estimated incorrect as later on, it become double to what evaluated earlier. According to a senior official working on the project, the rolling stock, track, electrical and mechanical work s costs are almost double than civil structure. The higher cost and faulty assessment has made the government pay money through loans and thus, delayed the project overall. 

2. Strategy, Governance and Procurement

This involves the processes during the initiation and planning which reflects the front-end stage of the project. The decisions are made initially about the three main components that are role and responsibilities of the entities throughout the life cycle of project, formal and informal authority at both, institutional level and individual level and lastly, strategy to organize in terms of relation to the partners to get the best delivery or outcome. 

For the front to end stages, the written details are the foremost requirement as a great amount of money has to spend on it. In addition, the officials and those informally associated should have an organized definition and clarity of role and responsibilities that must be stated beforehand.  The OLMT is considered as star project of previous PML-N government. The contractors were asked to show a detailed presentation which they were dearth of. 

Additionally, the officials were given dead line by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to complete the project till May 2019. Still the government failed to meet the direction due to the litigation on heritage sites and the land acquisition problems. This delay means that the strategy or planning for the organized running of project has been neglected from the beginning.  

3. Risk and Uncertainty

It involves the process of technological development and decision making strategy to overcome the risk or uncertainties in mega projects. The technological originality to preemptively work on risk management and the preparedness for uncertain situations. There is a need of flexibility in the decision making process as well as there must be no time constraints. It has been observed that OLMT is equipped with a good quality and non-joint tracks of international standards. The metro line constructed before in the capital has been found doomed due to the infrastructure and technology faults. The Orange Line Metro Train is fully automatic and driverless, which leaves no compromise on standards can be taken at any cost. For instance, it will solely work on electricity which is again a high risk in a state like Pakistan. A good management will be highly required for regular check on working.

4. Leadership

Leadership is something required for any project to fulfil under the supervision and a hard working team and the relationship between the two. In a country like Pakistan, there is lacking sense of project culture and thus a misalignment can be observed. There should be a team work where the project must be design in a way to damage less and provide much gains and long term gains to the state collectively. According to a study more than 40 schools and colleges demolished for the making of a train track which is a huge responsibility on the leadership and the team.

5. Stake-holder engagement and management

It includes the structure formation under certain norms where it is necessary to engage stakeholders and community in the activities of project. Mosque, Churches, residential blocks, private businesses, traditional places, schools and colleges are either demolished fully or partially or threatened. This has terrified the general public and showed resentment at larger scale.

6. Supply-Chain integration and coordination 

It involved the integration of projects and sub projects and their commercial relationship. The primary cause of the poor performance is the independent working and lacking coordination at different levels. This OLMT project has also been designed on the poor understanding of architecture. It has destroyed many local businesses and important buildings which means that the route is not thoroughly coordinated and integrated.

These six themes are considered as gist to understand the loop holes in the successful regulation of mega projects from start till end. It is important to take up these points under consideration by the government for the large scale projects so to secure their trust of people and to take the country one step ahead. 

Recommendations

Pakistan as developing country needs to learn from other states and specially the literature that have been produced. There is a dire need to move step by step towards mega projects by understanding what has been missed and must not be taken for granted. Followings are some main learnings for the upholding of future mega projects:

• Preparedness

• Priority of customer satisfaction 

• Involving key decision makers from institutional to supply chain levels 

• Organizational responsiveness

• Skill and team work

• Management culture growth 

• Develop penalties for ignoring or providing misleading information

•  Introduce the option to defer to further assess risks

• The economic viability and avoid over commitment 

• Control and flexibility for political maneuvering 

• Emphasize on shorter pre-construction phase

• Higher probability of cost overrun

• Adopt integrated project teams to deliver the project

• Focus on simplification to avoid risks 

• Regular reports 

• Integration of stake holders and general masses 

• Integration of projects and sub projects 

• No compromise on Tech

• Competitive structures 

• Performance measurement

• Multi check and balance system 

These are only the basic and the focused measure that Pakistan should look forward in order to achieve long term and successful results. The first step that state should focus on is to research in order to understand the differences that Pakistan as a separate country faces. New studies must develop to learn from other states as well and to discuss the similarities and differences from other states. Still a key rule for these developmental mega project is to manage, evaluate and integrate for high performance.  

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Urban Development

As cities fill tech gaps, power of smart cities unleashes

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Governing Smart Cities, a report released today by the World Economic Forum, provides a benchmark for the ethical and responsible use of smart city technologies by looking into the inner workings of 36 Pioneer Cities. The authors of the report seek to help city leaders identify gaps, protect long-term interests and keep up with the pace of technology.

According to the report, cities of all sizes, geographies and levels of development have serious governance gaps, such as the failure to designate a person accountable for cybersecurity or to assess privacy risks when procuring new technology systems. However, leaders can close these gaps and protect long-term interests by acting now.

Written in partnership with Deloitte, the report follows the call to action from G20 ministers in 2019 that resulted in the creation of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. The Alliance and its partners represent over 200,000 cities, local governments, leading companies, start-ups, research institutions and civil society communities. It acts as a platform to help cities strengthen their knowledge, expertise and governance of smart city technologies. The Forum is its secretariat.

The 36 Pioneer Cities surveyed span six continents and 22 countries, and have populations ranging from 70,000 to over 15 million. Policy experts and government officials were interviewed from January to March 2021 to assess the implementation of a set of five essential policies identified by the G20 Alliance last year.

Key findings

Nearly all the cities surveyed – including those that are generally regarded as leading global cities – have critical policy gaps related to their governance of smart city technologies

Despite an unprecedented increase in global cybersecurity attacks, most cities have not designated a specific government official as ultimately accountable for cybersecurity.

While the majority of cities recognize the importance of protecting the privacy of their citizens, only 17% of cities surveyed carry out privacy impact assessments before deploying new technologies.

Less than half of the cities surveyed have processes in place to ensure that technologies they procure are accessible to elderly residents or individuals with limited physical abilities.

Open data policy is perhaps the only area in which most cities in the sample have achieved a level of basic implementation. Even here, only 15% of the Pioneer Cities have integrated their open data portals with their wider city data infrastructure, which is a necessary step towards making a city “open by default”.

“Cities are continuing to invest heavily in new technologies to automate and improve city services and urban life. Yet our findings validate our fears that most cities are falling behind when it comes to ensuring effective oversight and governance of these technologies,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of Internet of Things and Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum. “The G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance is working with cities across the globe to address this gap, beginning with more than 15 policy workshops with city officials this summer.”

“Cities have an array of opportunities to become more resilient and sustainable. Technology is an enabler but, to fulfill its full potential, Cities need to revise their governance, operational, and financing models. Here lies the biggest challenge Cities face. Deloitte is proud to have worked with the Forum in this initiative. It is fundamental for us all to gain consciousness of the complexity of the issues and focus on how the moment we are all living can be a key opportunity”, said Miguel Eiras Antunes, Global Smart Cities Leader, Deloitte Global. “Now is the moment for a great urban transformation. Addressing urban challenges through the lenses of sustainability, inclusion, and technology is critical to develop and implement a roadmap to guide cities with their governance of smart technology and make an impact that matters.”

How to take action

The report concludes that city leaders and officials need to take action before these governance gaps become material risk and affect residents. The report’s authors also call for national policymakers, civil society and the business community to help support local governments in overcoming these challenges. Inclusion, data privacy and cybersecurity attacks are top concerns and the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance has a mandate to help cities close the governance gaps that this report has uncovered. Cities looking for assistance in identifying and addressing their policy gaps are encouraged to contact the Alliance via their website.

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Urban Development

New Report Shows Shape of Urban Growth Underpins Livability and Sustainable Growth

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A first-of-its-kind World Bank analysis, of the shape and growth of nearly 10,000 cities between 1990 and 2015, finds that the most successful urban areas are those that connect their growth to economic demand and then support this with comprehensive plans, policies and investments that help avoid uncontrolled sprawl.

The new report, Pancakes to Pyramids – City Form for Sustainable Growth, analyzes the dynamic, two-way relationship between a city’s economic growth and the floor space available to residents and businesses. It finds that a city is most likely to be its best version when its shape is driven by economic fundamentals and a conducive policy environment – namely, a robust job market, flexible building regulations, dependable public transit and access to essential services, public spaces, and cultural amenities.

Ultimately, getting livable space right, hinges on how a city manages its growth as populations and incomes increase, factoring in three dimensions of expansion – horizontal, vertical or within existing spaces (known as infill), the report finds. This will be key as cities, on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, begin planning for a long-term, resilient, and inclusive recovery.

“Cities are at the frontier of development; they are where people go to chase their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families,” said Juergen Voegele, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank. “This report helps us understand why a city grows outward, inward or up. As we support countries with their COVID-19 recovery efforts, this will also help us reflect on what makes a city livable and remind us that well-planned urban growth is good for both people and planet.”

In the average Sub-Saharan African city, 60 percent of the population lives in slums—a much larger share than the 34 percent average in cities in developing countries. The lack of floor space takes a severe toll on livability—with major consequences in times of pandemics like COVID-19. Many South Asian cities face similar issues.

Horizontal growth is inevitable for most cities. People will continue to migrate to urban areas for opportunities and a better quality of life, so it is crucial for cities to plan for this trend. As urban populations grow, one way to create more space per inhabitant is by building up instead of out. This could also help reduce crowding, discourage long commutes, draw more people to public transit and drive down greenhouse gas emissions. But building tall, or accommodating more people in a city, is dependent on economic demand and the business environment as it requires better technology, large investments, and higher returns on capital.

“Understanding the multiple drivers of city growth—a precondition for livable density in cities—can help city leaders focus on the right policy actions,” said Somik Lall, co-author of the report. “If managed well, cities that take a more pyramid-like shape can provide an impetus to accelerate sustainable development by getting people out of cars, cutting commute times, and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.”

Today, around 55 percent of the world lives in urban areas. By 2050, this number is projected to surpass two-thirds of the global population, with much of the new urbanization happening in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While such growth signals opportunities and better livelihoods for millions of people, it also puts immense strain on cities, especially in countries that contend with low incomes and weak institutional and fiscal capabilities.

By describing how economic productivity shapes decisions by households and firms to locate in cities, and how the quantity and spatial distribution of urban floor space respond to these changes in demand, the report aims to help decision makers sort through competing legal and regulatory approaches, evaluate their investments in infrastructure, and mobilize finance for durable urban investments, particularly for essential services such as transport, water provision, solid waste management, and sewage removal and treatment.

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Urban Development

First international online forum Smart Cities Moscow

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The first international online forum Smart Cities Moscow ended in Moscow. 86 speakers from Russia, China, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, the United States, Sweden, and other countries spoke at the forum’s business program. More than 193,000 people watched the broadcasts of the panel discussions and sessions.

“A modern approach to digitalization is unthinkable without exchange of experience and conversation between cities. Moscow, being one of the world leaders of digital transformation, acted as a platform for such a conversation, and it is important for us that the international community responded with interest to this initiative. Recent years have especially shown how important it is to develop the IT infrastructure of cities and create online services focused on the daily needs of city dwellers. Synchronization and joint efforts will make megacities even more sustainable, smart and comfortable for living,” said Eduard Lysenko, Minister of the Moscow Government, Head of the Department of Information Technologies of Moscow.

The need for global communities to cooperate in creating and developing smart cities was also stressed by Juwang Zhu, director of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Division of Public Institutions and Digital Government.

“We at the UN support universal interaction in terms of the implementation of new technologies. I am glad that the Smart Cities Moscow forum will now be an annual event. This is very important: to encourage cities to exchange practices, to develop digitalization with the whole world, so that there would be more and more smart cities,” Juwang Zhu said, adding that the greatest benefit of using new technologies was seen by countries during the fight against the pandemic.

The business program of the forum consisted of 15 sessions divided into three main directions: “Smart City Infrastructure and Technologies”, “Smart City for Life”, and “Sustainable Development of Smart City”. The experts shared their experiences of using digital solutions in transport, urban planning, tourism, ecology, energy and other sectors important for the cities. Separate sessions were devoted to piloting 5G networks, application of artificial intelligence in urban processes and big data analysis for urban development planning.

Best practices and ecosystem approach to the digitalization of cities were discussed during the plenary session of the forum. Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin spoke about the experience of introducing technologies in the capital and creating digital platforms for residents. He noted that Moscow digital projects cover absolutely all spheres of life, focusing primarily on human needs. Representatives of the relevant departments of the Moscow City Government spoke in more detail about the capital’s IT projects during the panel discussions.

Mr. Chen Jining, Mayor of Beijing, Mr. Bakytzhan Sagintayev, Mayor of Almaty, Mr. Saeed Belhoul, Director of Electronic Government Operations of Dubai Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Mr. Mohamed Salah Eldin, Project Manager for the construction and formation of the smart city Nour (new administrative capital of Egypt) and Mayor of Fort Lauderdale Dean Trantalis also shared their experience at the plenary session.

One of the key events of the forum was the awarding of two certificates of compliance with international ISO standards for sustainable and smart cities to Moscow. “Until now, there has never been a precedent in history when both of these certificates were awarded simultaneously,” said Patricia McCarney, president of the International City Data Council (WCCD).

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