ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif hailed the launch of the metro bus project in the twin cities on Thursday, saying, “This is New Pakistan. This is the ray of a new dawn.”
Inaugurating the 23-kilometre bus service, he said the development currently taking place in the country was unacceptable to ‘the enemy’ and reiterated his government’s resolve to combat terrorism and the energy crisis to turn around the national economy.
Out of frustration, he said, terrorists occasionally carried out subversive activities and mentioned the killing of innocent passengers in Mastung as an example.
He said the government, the political leadership and all other institutions had resolved to eliminate terrorists from the country’s soil.
About the metro bus project, the PM said its timely completion was praiseworthy since, in the past, development projects had lingered on for decades, increasing their cost manifold.
“This is called democracy. It can deliver. It should be allowed to deliver. None of the wars have been fought during democratic governments’ tenures. The country progressed under the democratic set-ups. Nuclear power and economic turnaround were also achieved under democracy,” he remarked.
He congratulated the residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on the inauguration of the service and said visitors to the twin cities would also enjoy the state-of-the-art transport service.
The project is expected to facilitate around 150,000 commuters from the twin cities with 68 buses plying initially. Twenty-four bus stations have been built across the 23km track that consists of a 8.6km elevated portion in Rawalpindi. Each bus will have the capacity to carry 150 passengers and will complete its route within 50 minutes.
The PM said that students who would normally be delayed by the inefficient erstwhile transport service would now enjoy secure and peaceful travel in the comfort of the air-conditioned and heated buses. He also pointed out that bus stations would also be equipped with WiFi services.
He also congratulated his brother Shahbaz Sharif on completing the project within such a short period and assured the people that the government would ensure that public resources were used honestly and only for the welfare of the public.
He announced that the federal government planned to introduce a Green Line Metro Bus Service in Karachi and also offered to help develop such a facility in Peshawar and Balochistan.
He said mega projects had already been launched throughout the country and the metro bus project was but one part of these.
He said the government would rid the country of the power crisis within the next three years and the power tariff would also be reduced. He also mentioned a recent decrease in power rates by Rs 5.5 per unit following a decline in oil prices.
PM Sharif said work on the Khunjerab-Gwadar Motorway had begun and thanked the political leadership for their unity on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the country would soon have a motorway link from Peshawar to Karachi and that work on Hazara Motorway had also been initiated.
Addressing the ceremony, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif said the project was opposed by only ‘aristocrats’ who did not want to see the common man enjoying facilities at par with them.
He said the responsibility of operating the buses had been outsourced and in case of any negligence, the company would be fined.
The bus service boasts automated ticket vending machines, two generators at each of the 24 bus stations, escalators, lifts for the elderly and disabled, free WiFi, LED display screens, toilets, drinking water and round-the-clock security at the stations and on the buses.
The buses would have a separate compartment for women and separate seats for the handicapped and the elderly. The buses would also be monitored with CCTV and travel information screens and public announcement systems would help ensure smooth flow.
The ceremony was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Pervaiz Khattak, Balochistan CM Abdul Malik Baloch, Punjab Governor Rafiq Rajwana, KP Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Balochistan Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai as well as federal cabinet members and leaders of different political parties
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2015