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Peshawar bus project challenged in court

October 22, 2017
Labourers uprooting a greenbelt on GT Road for Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project. Millions of rupees were spent on setting up the greenbelt two months ago. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya
Labourers uprooting a greenbelt on GT Road for Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project. Millions of rupees were spent on setting up the greenbelt two months ago. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya

PESHAWAR: Former provincial minister Maulana Amanullah Haqqani on Saturday challenged the provincial government’s much-publicised Bus Rapid Transit project in the Peshawar High Court, claiming that the initiative was illegal as the procedural formalities provided in the Constitution were not fulfilled for its execution.

Maulana Haqqani, a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, and another Peshawar resident Wali Khan filed a joint petition requesting the high court to declare the BRT project illegal, without lawful authority and of no legal effect.

The petitioners prayed the court to direct the respondents, including the KP government to disclose all documentary information to the court and petitioner about the project, including the loan agreement signed with the Asian Development Bank.

Former JUI-F minister claims initiative illegal as formalities not fulfilled

The respondents in the petition are the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through transport and mass transit secretary; project director for the BRT Project Management Unit; Provincial Development Working Party through its chairman; Central Development Working Party through planning secretary, and the Executive Committee of National Economic Council through the principal secretary to the prime minister.

The petition filed through former president of PHC Bar Association Mohammad Essa Khan said the BRT project would cost Rs57 billion, which was a loan obtained from the ADB and to be disbursed by the ADB in three years.

The petitioners said left with few months to complete term, the government shouldn’t be permitted both legally and logically to execute a mega project, which would become a liability for the next government.

They said there were a number of legal and technical flaws in the project due to which that project was bound to fail and thus burdening the people of the province with loans unnecessarily.

The petitioners claimed that no feasibility report was prepared, which was the very basic of any developmental project.

They said the pre-feasibility public sharing report on the project was lacking.

The petitioners said the project’s ‘draft design’ had never been prepared though it was the very basis of a final design and that in its absence, the final design had been made.

They add that it was the first project in the engineering history that PC-was is approved in the absence of PC-II.

The petitioners said the Lahore metro bus service covered 27km area and with the help of 70 buses but in Peshawar, whose population was much less than Lahore’s, 300 or 450 buses would be plied under the BRT project.

They said the Punjab government was bearing around Rs1.8 billion subsidy for 70 metro buses annually but in Peshawar, the government claimed that no subsidy would be given for the BRT project.

The petitioners alleged that for knowing the status of the flaws and any move for their removal by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, an application under the Right to Information Act, 2013, was made to the transport and mass transit secretary on Aug 31 but the information hadn’t been offered so far.

They said legally and technically speaking, technical audit of the project should have been done but ironically, no such exercise had been undertaken.

The petitioners feared that the start of work on the project in one go right from Hayatabad to Chamkani area would bring the entire Peshawar city to a standstill as there were no alternate routes to the misery of the local residents.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017