ISLAMABAD, Sept 13: Eighteen national consultants interested in carrying out feasibility study for modeling and designing a mass transit service for Islamabad and Rawalpindi participated in a pre-bid meeting held in Lahore early this month.

Non-attributable officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) confirmed the meeting to Dawn on Friday.

It was the follow-up of an ad put by the Punjab Metrobus Authority and the cash-strapped CDA in August 24 newspapers for a feasibility study of their joint project for the twin cities.

“That such a large number of national consultants turned up at the pre-bid meeting highlights that international investors see good profit margin in the mass transit project for the twin cities,” observed one CDA official.

“Since the national firms lack both expertise and finances, they will go for a joint venture with some international investor to execute the project,” he explained.

Syed Usman Ali, a multinational company engineer, told Dawn that the feasibility would involve traffic engineers studying the flow of traffic to design a mass transit bus or rail service in accordance with the passenger load and capacity of roads of the two cities, having a combined population of more than four million.

A Punjab Metrobus Authority official was confident the project would start “on time because of its political importance”.

Since the leadership of the ruling PML-N was keen to provide modern transport system to the twin cities, the project was “making swift progress”, said the official who did not wish to be named.

According to him, it was a priority for the PML-N government to give a modern look to the twin cities by introducing a transit system like the one in Guangzhou, China.

Asked about the cost of the project, a CDA financial wing official candidly admitted that “even the consultancy charges will have to be shared between the Punjab Metrobus Authority and the cash-strapped CDA”.

“CDA and the Punjab government would work out the cost, and their share in it, once the PC-I (the basic document for any government project) is prepared,” he said, pointing out that the CDA had already established a limited company in this regard.

The spokesman for the CDA was not available for comments on the issue.

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