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Metro bus project in the fast lane in Rawalpindi

March 04, 2014

RAWALPINDI: Two dozen construction firms have offered to build the Rs38 billion metro bus project of the Punjab government for the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and three of them will be picked up by Thursday to execute the project.

“Contracts will then be awarded to the selected firms who bid lowest in the following week and the civil works of the elevated road and bus stations in Rawalpindi area are likely to start by March 20,” Capt. (retired) Zahid Saeed, Commissioner of Rawalpindi and project director, told Dawn.

Survey of the over 20 kanals of land needed for the civil works has already been completed and the District Price Committee is meeting in the next two days to decide the market rate to acquire the same, he said.

That sounds unbelievably fast pace of work when the Capital Development Authority (CDA) does not agree with the bus route and design of the Islamabad section of the project.

A CDA official said its experts are expected to discuss their objections with the state-owned Nespak company, which has designed the project, on Thursday.

But project director Saeed claimed that “CDA’s three concerns have already been addressed by a high-level committee headed by the Chief Secretary of Punjab

CDA sources said that the design proposes constructing seven metres-wide roads over green land in I-8 and H-8 sectors, which would violate Islamabads Master Plan and environment protection laws.

The median of the Ninth Avenue is of the same width and can serve the purpose much better, they say. CDA engineers also oppose the metro bus running on the Jinnah Avenue and suggest using Fazle Haq Road as the alternative route.

“Our bus service aims at the daily commuters to Blue Area and the Pakistan Secretariat. Opting for Fazle Haq Road to terminate at Pakistan Secretariat would invite objections from the security establishment,” project director Saeed said responding to the suggestion.

“We cannot do the project executioners’ bidding as it would land us in courts. The problem seems to be that the executioners take Islamabad to be Lahore,” intoned a CDA official, asserting that the federal capital’s affairs lay in the domain of the prime minister and not any province.

But his colleague asked him not to forget that “another executive order like the one that allowed a provincial agency to execute the metro bus project in Islamabad can be issued to set aside the CDA objections”.