RAWALPINDI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will inaugurate the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project on March 23.

“Formal work on the 23.4 kilometre-long, Rs44.21 billion Metro Bus Project will start on March 27. The work on the Islamabad section will begin in the first week of April,” said Commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Saeed, who is also the project director.

Briefing mediapersons about the project at the Potohar Town Council hall on Friday, the commissioner defended the bidding process in which the army-run National Logistics Cell (NLC) was given the contract of the Rawalpindi section of the project from Committee Chowk to 6th Road at 1.04 per cent higher than the estimated cost.

“The NLC presented the bid of Rs4.71 billion against the official Rs4.7 billion for package B (from Committee Chowk to 6th Road),” he said.

About the greenbelts and violation of the master plan of Islamabad, the commissioner said the project would not violate the master plan of the capital city as the track for the metro bus along 9th Avenue and Jinnah Avenue would be constructed on the space reserved for the expansion of the roads by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

“The issue was discussed at the meetings of Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec). They approved the project after vetting the master plan,” he said.

Mr Saeed claimed that neither greenbelts nor any pine tree on Jinnah Avenue would be chopped. There is no greenbelt to be affected by the project in the Rawalpindi section.

“The bus stations on Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad will be constructed in the middle of the road and underpasses will be constructed for the commuters to reach the stations,” he said.

The elevated road for the metro buses will be constructed only in the Rawalpindi section.

The commissioner said total 29 kanals of land would be acquired in the twin cities for the project, including 20 kanals in Rawalpindi.

“The payment for the land will be made according to the market rate and value of the land in the respective localities.”

He said about 153,000 passengers would daily travel on the 60 buses in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The federal and provincial governments will equally share the total cost of the project.

However, he said, the additional Rs4.46 billion required for the construction of the Peshawar Mor Flyover would be provided by the federal government.

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