ISLAMABAD, June 25: Good news for the residents of Islamabad: within a year, the capital city will have its own Rapid Bus Transport System (RBTS) like the metro-bus service of Lahore.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is serious in getting the project completed without delay and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has finalised the feasibility report of the Rs7.2 billion public transport project,” said a source in the civic agency.
According to the source, Nasir Khosa, the secretary to the prime minister, was being updated by the senior CDA management about the project.
It may be noted that for the last many years successive governments kept on promising to launch a decent public transport service in the capital city but did nothing practical.
“During the last one decade, the CDA spent over Rs30 billion on a number of projects like flyovers, road and entertainment projects but failed to provide the basic facility of a transport service to the 1.8 million residents of the city,” said the official.
A senior official of the CDA financial wing added that the government would provide around Rs7.2 billion for the RBTS.
“The project will be completed in one year. The office of the prime minister will be keeping an eye on the development of the project. Besides, the chairman CDA and his board members will keep the prime minister office updated on the pace of work on the project,” said the official.
He added that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was also willing to facilitate the CDA in holding an international bidding for the project.
A planning wing official informed Dawn that almost 48 diesel buses would initially be purchased by the CDA through an open bidding.
“The buses will be operated on five routes and will be available to the passengers at the 33 stops after every five minutes.”
The routes will be from F-10 Markaz to Pak Secretariat, Kashmir Highway to G-14 and Pak Secretariat (in a later stage towards the new international airport), Karachi Company to Pak Secretariat and F-10 to the I.J. Principal Road.
Asked why the cost of the RBTS was lesser than the metro bus service of Lahore, the official said Lahore was a congested city so the engineers of the Punjab government had to work out an elevated expressway for smooth operation of the metro buses.
“In Islamabad, we have well-planned and wide roads and do not need any separate expressway. The only cost on the project will be on the purchase of buses, development of terminals and bus depots having workshops and parking spaces.”
CDA chairman Nadeem Hasan Asif in a brief interaction with this reporter said they were working on the project.
“This time, the CDA board members are serious in completing the project within the given timeframe.”
Despite repeated attempts, no official was available at the Prime Minister Secretariat to comment on the project.