RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has started revising the budget of the metro bus project as the estimated cost is likely to go up from Rs44.21 billion to Rs50 billion.
A senior official of the RDA told Dawn that increase in land and construction material cost, purchase of escalators for bus stations, relocation of shrine on Sixth Road and bus depot land were some of the factors that had contributed to increasing the project cost.
No work has taken place on Parade Lane and Blue Area for the last two months due to the sit-ins by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), the official said, adding that the contractor was demanding payment for the extra days needed to complete the project.
He said that the relocation of gas and water pipelines and discovery of lines that had previously not been accounted for at Peshawar Mor and Constitution Avenue had also increased the cost under this head from Rs2.1 billion to Rs4 billion.
The sit-ins have also resulted in road blockade, forcing contractors to buy iron and cement from local industries at prices higher than those quoted in the agreement. Some portions of the ongoing project have been damaged at Parade Lane for which contractors have demanded compensation.
Political unrest in the capital blamed for increase in expenses
For land acquisition, he said Rs1.2 billion had been allocated, but now the cost has increased to Rs2 billion.
He said earlier, a shrine on Murree Road was not falling on the route of the bus service but later that area was also included due to which the government had to acquire more land and compensate the custodian of the shrine.
A total of 27 kanals, including 19 kanals of private land, will be acquired for the construction of bus stations on Murree Road. The 23.2km-long elevated road will have 10 bus stations in Rawalpindi and 14 in Islamabad.
When contacted, Commissioner Rawalpindi and Project Director Metro Bus Project Zahid Saeed said the RDA was working as per its plan. He admitted that work was slow because of political unrest in Islamabad.
He said work on I.J. Principal Road and 9th Avenue was also progressing at a slow pace due to relocation of graveyard and acquisition of land for metro bus depot. However, he said work would pick up pace after the Islamabad High Court allowed relocation of the graveyard.
He said the RDA managed to convince the custodian of the shrine on Sixth Road to relocate the grave and in this regard, payments had been made to him.
However, he said the RDA had called a meeting of contractors on Sunday to review work on all eight packages of the metro bus project. He said all hurdles to the project would be removed soon.
Published in Dawn, September 27th , 2014