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The new airport was inaugurated before the completion of the metro bus track. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
The new airport was inaugurated before the completion of the metro bus track. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: The new Islamabad International Airport is scheduled to welcome international flights Thursday onwards, but there is no public bus service to facilitate citizens in travelling to and from the airport.

Constructed at the cost of Rs105 billion, the new airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the beginning of this month.

The government decided to inaugurate the new airport before the completion of the metro bus track from Peshawar Mor to the new airport, which is 20km from Zero Point and over 25km from Saddar, Rawalpindi.

The 26.5km metro bus track project, worth Rs16 billion from Peshawar Mor to the airport is being executed by the National Highway Authority (NHA) and is yet to be completed.

Completion of new metro bus track will take few more months, PC-I for procuring buses has not been prepared yet

According to an official Dawn spoke to, the process of procuring buses is also yet to be done and even the PC-I of the project has not been completed yet.

According to sources, contractors will need several months for delivering the buses which have to be manufactured specifically.

“I don’t think the track will be operational in the next six months, complete with the new busses, but operation can be started when the track is completed with borrowed buses from other routes, such as from the Rawalpindi-Islamabad service or the Multan metro,” an official said.

In the absence of a bus service, passengers will have to rely on cabs and other private vehicles.

“The project is in progress with almost 80pc of the work completed and the project will be completed within the next two months,” said NHA project director Samiullah Chatta.

He said 70pc of the asphalt work has also been completed along with the road network for other vehicles so that private vehicles can reach the airport with ease.

During a meeting of a Senate standing committee in January this year, NHA officials had said the metro track from Peshawar Mor to the new airport will be completed by January while civil work and work on the eight bus stations will be done by May.

In February this year, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took notice of the uncertainty regarding the operation of the new metro bus service and also wrote a letter to the NHA in this regard.

The premier had directed the NHA to float a request for proposals and to start the tendering process immediately for the procurement of bus services along with ancillary services.

The successful bidder will be dealt by a company to be incorporated by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The premier has directed that the tender documents and the request for proposals should explicitly mention that all contracts awarded will subsequently be novated to a successor company to be incorporated by the CDA for the operation and maintenance of the said bus line project.

The letter from the Prime Minister’s Office, available with Dawn, says: “While reviewing the progress of the new Islamabad airport, the prime minister has noted with concerns that even though substantial physical progress has been done so far [in the construction of the] metro bus corridor, absolutely nothing has been done so far to contract out procurement, operation and maintenance etc of bus service itself”.

“Since Punjab Mass Transit Authority [the current operator of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus] has expressed its inability to operate this project, the prime minister in view of the public interest and the current limitations of CDA has pleased to direct that NHA shall immediately float [the request for proposals],” the letter says.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2018