Mega consortium gets rights to develop riverfront phase-1

A mega consortium of more than 10 firms led by a known group of companies has succeeded in getting development rights of the phase-1 (Sapphire Bay) of the country’s first mega riverfront development venture in Lahore — Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project worth billions of dollars.

The Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) — the project owner/client — will announce the name of successful bidder within next couple of days, Dawn has learnt.

“We have completed the bidding process for awarding/granting rights of developing the phase-1 (2,000 acres / Sapphire Bay) of the project. The formal announcement about the successful bidder will be made on Monday or Tuesday (May 31 or June 1),” RUDA’s Chief Executive Officer Imran Ameen told Dawn on Saturday.

“The letter of intent (LOI) will also be issued to the successful bidder soon,” he added.

According to RUDA chief, as many as eight groups/companies were pre-qualified for submitting their technical bids for the project. Of eight, he said, four qualified technically and they were asked to submit their bids. Out of four, three—including one (Javedan consortium) owned by Arif Habib Group of Companies—submitted bids.

“Of three, Javedan’s financial bid was more than the other bidders–Bahria Town and Metracon,” Ameen added.

It is pertinent to mention that Javedan Corporation, a lead partner of the Javedan consortium, is a subsidiary of the Arif Habib Group of Companies. And the name of Mr Arif Habib was mentioned on top in an official notification as member of the Ravi Urban Development Authority.

“In exercise of the powers conferred under section 4 (4) of the RUDA ordinance 2020, the Punjab government is pleased to appoint Mr Arif Habib (Arif Habib Group), Mr Aqeel Ahmad Dhedhi (AKD Group), Mr Iftikhar Ali Malik (Guard Group of Companies), Planning and Development Board Chairman, Housing Department Secretary, Mr Javed Salim Qureshi (Pakistan Engineering Council Chairman) and Mr Kalim Ahmad Siddiqui (Pakistan Council for Architects & Town Planners) as members of the authority for a period of three years,” reads a notification issued on August 6 last year by the Punjab government.

However, after one month or so of the issuance of notification, Mr Habib resigned from the membership so as to avert any controversy or any conflict of interest.

“He (Mr Habib) had resigned last year—probably a month or so after notification’s issuance,” the RUDA CEO clarified. “And since he is no more member of the authority, there is no conflict of interest in this regard,” he said.

He said under the business development model, the bidders were required to offer percentage of developed residential and commercial plots and money to RUDA against the land they would be getting for development and contribution in the development of river channelization, construction of barrages, river’ training, roads, infrastructure etc. “But I cannot tell you the bidders’ offers exactly right now since we will announce this by Tuesday,” he maintained. “Everything related to the bidding process was done in a very transparent manner by following PPRA rules and other regulations,” the RUDA head claimed.

On the other hand, an official source in the Punjab government told Dawn that bidding process was based on single stage-three envelope (pre-qualification and technical and financial evaluations). “The successful bidder offered 15 percent each of the total developed residential and commercial plots, cost of raw land and financial contribution in developing the mega infrastructure — three barrages for river revival and channelization, roads, wastewater treatment plant etc,” the official explained.

He said the Ravi project part-1 consists of around 44,000 acres that includes 5,000 acres river’s land. Of the remaining 39,000 acres, the government initially wants development of 2,000 acres of the riverfront project.

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