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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has told the Prime Minister’s Office that it will not be able to run the metro bus service between Peshawar Mor and the new Islamabad International Airport.

Through an official letter, CDA Chairman Afzal Latif appraised the Prime Minister’s Office that being a development agency, the CDA does not have the mandate to run a bus operation.

“Through an official letter on Oct 30, we informed the Prime Minister’s Office that we cannot run the metro bus service between Peshawar Mor and the new airport,” said CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali.

Sources in the civic agency said the track will likely be completed in December and that the government is yet to decide who will run the bus service.

The Punjab Metro Bus Authority, which runs the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metro bus service had already refused to operate the new service while the National Highways Authority (NHA), which is executing the project for the construction of the 25.6km corridor worth Rs16 billion, has said it has nothing to with its operation.

Through an official letter on Oct 17, NHA had asked the CDA to procure buses for the service. Sources said that after receiving the letter, the CDA chief wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office and NHA, saying that the civic agency does not have the mandate to run a bus service.

The letter says the project was assigned to the NHA by the former prime minister and that the construction work was accordingly undertaken by the said authority with the CDA’s support only in coordination and the removal of bottlenecks related to CDA assets such as roads, water supply network and sewerage lines etc.

The letter said that according to the CDA Ordinance 1960, the civic agency’s scope is limited to area development and schemes and that it does not cover bus service operations.

Therefore, being the relevant agency, the NHA may seek service operators with the involvement of concerned agencies as per the rules of business including the Islamabad Transport Authority and the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad.

The Oct 17 NHA letter to the CDA for the procurement of buses cited a decision taken in a May 10 meeting chaired by former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The letter said the meeting had decided that the procurement of buses and allied services will be undertaken by CDA though officials of the later who attended the meeting denied this and said the CDA had told the former premier that it is a civic agency and does not have the mandate to run a bus service.

However, according to both organisations, the minutes of the meeting have either not been issued or not been supplied to them.

“We are supposed to conduct the projects for the construction of corridors and roads,” and NHA official said, adding that the authority will take up the matter of operation with the federal government after completing the project.

“It is the federal government’s job to decide who will operate the bus service,” he said.

In Feb this year, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had taken notice of the uncertainty regarding the operation of the service and had directed NHA to float a request for proposals and to start the tendering process immediately. The successful bidder was to be dealt with by a company incorporated by CDA. However, the CDA had said its ordinance does not allow it to do so.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2018

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