Monorail misses the bus
What is the one thing common between Dubai and Mumbai? Both cities’ experiments with the Monorail faced long delays.
Workers employed by the SCOMI-L&T consortium may not be creating something as complicated as Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah Monorail, but they are putting in place the first alternative transport system in Mumbai, which for decades has relied on trains and buses.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), through the consortium, is building a 19.54-km Monorail stretching from Jacob Circle to Chembur via Wadala. The Monorail was to be completed in two stages, with the 8.26-km Wadala-Chembur stretch being completed before the 11.28-km Jacob Circle-Wadala one.
Work on the entire line, which weaves through some of the most congested parts of Mumbai, began in November 2008 was to be completed by May this year. But, at the present pace of construction, it is unlikely to meet the deadline.
Of the 889 pillars, only 70% are ready. On the first stretch, only four stations — Bhakti Park, Wadala, Mysore Colony and Chembur — of seven are in advanced stages of completion.
“We will complete the remaining stations in three months,” said SCOMI Country President Suhaimi Yaacob.
The company said nearly 40% of the work on the entire stretch is complete. It has now set a new timeline for the project. “Commuters will be able to use the Monorail from Wadala to Chembur by November 2011; the entire route will be ready by May 2012,” said Yaacob.
The delay is being blamed on the failure to get a complete right of way for the construction. The Home Ministry disallowed construction near Arthur Road jail due to security concerns. It relented later, but the delay set the project back by months.
Construction on the narrow roads was tricky. The consortium had to grapple with work on roads as narrow as 24 feet in areas such as Chembur and Parel.
“Even the Dubai Palm Jumeirah Monorail, which cost over $400 million (Rs 1,800 crore) and was much smaller than Mumbai’s, was set back by months. Creating such massive infrastructure in our conditions is tricky,” said a senior MMRDA official on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to speak to the media.
Dubai’s Monorail was delayed by five months and opened in April 2009. It received a poor response from the public. Planners in Mumbai are hoping the same doesn’t happen in Mumbai.