Cost of Metro Bus Project may go up

Published March 11, 2014
Construction of the Metro Bus Station at Liaquat Bagh has already started. — Photo by G.A. Zaidi
Construction of the Metro Bus Station at Liaquat Bagh has already started. — Photo by G.A. Zaidi

RAWALPINDI: The cost of the Metro Bus Service Project is likely to increase from the estimated Rs38 billion to Rs42 billion if the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) accommodates the objections of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to the design of an intersection at Peshawar Mor.

Under the project, the project cost — Rs38 billion — will be equally shared by the federal and the Punjab governments. The Punjab government has already allocated Rs19 billion for the portion of the project in Rawalpindi.

However, the federal government asked the CDA to present the project in the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) after its approval from the governing body schedule to be held on Tuesday.

Apart from destroying greenbelts on 9th Avenue, the CDA has also objected to the construction of the intersection at Peshawar Mor. The civic agency asked the consultant of the project — Nespak — to make the intersection for all types of traffic, including vehicles using Kashmir Highway and those moving to and from H-8, H-9, G-8, G-9 and 9th Avenue.

It said if the road was made only for the Metro Bus, the government will have to make some alterations on the main square for other traffic.

On the other hand, the provincial authorities said the estimated cost of the Peshawar Mor remodeling was Rs2 billion but if the CDA’s objection was accommodated the cost would increase to Rs6 billion.

Both the Punjab government and the CDA have now decided to forward the matter to CDWP and then Ecnec for a final decision.

“The consultant had made the design according to the objection of the CDA and the final decision will be made by Ecnec,” said Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed while talking to Dawn. He said the total cost would increase if Ecnec approved the new design of the Peshawar Mor intersection.

Islamabad bus service (IBS) project

Experts from the finance ministry on Monday told the CDA that up to Rs40 million financial assistance could be required to operate a quality bus service in the capital city.

A meeting of the CDA officials and the project development experts from the finance ministry, chaired by the chairman CDA, Maroof Afzal, was held to discuss the implementation of the Islamabad Bus Service (IBS) project.

It was decided that the civic body would conduct a traffic survey to assess the passengers flow.

Under the project, buses would be operated on three routes within the jurisdiction of the federal capital - Rawat to Secretariat, I-10 to Secretariat and Bhara Kahu to Secretariat.

The meeting discussed various options related to the operating mechanism of the buses.

However, talking to Dawn, a senior official said the amount required for the smooth operation of the bus service would be much less than being assessed now.

“This was the basic idea but the civic body would also be earning from the sale of tickets and outdoor advertising at the bus stops and on the buses.”

The idea of IBS is to invite bids from the operators who would not only invest in bringing new buses but would also operate the bus service. The CDA would pay the operational charges.

The CDA would develop around 90 bus stops.

“If one stop is auctioned at Rs10 million for a year, the CDA would get Rs900 million annually from outdoor advertising. The annual operation cost is estimated between Rs420 and Rs480 million.”

The meeting agreed that there would not be any relief in fares which would be equal to the existing local transport fares.

Five companies have already filed expression of interests over the project and the CDA is expected to meet them in the coming week to float tenders.

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