PESHAWAR: Besides demanding 10 years tax exemption for the traders affected by the Bus Rapid Transit project, a multiparty conference held here on Friday also urged the National Accountability Bureau to carry out an impartial inquiry into the alleged corruption in Peshawar’s multibillion rupees initiative.
Participants of the event organised by the Jamaat-i-Islami also appealed to the Supreme Court to take a suo motu action over the alleged misuse of the taxpayers’ money in the project to ensure punishment of the culpable people.
The MPC titled ‘corruption in BRT project and Peshawar issues’ and chaired by JI provincial emir and Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan was held at the Peshawar Press Club.
Seeks 10-year tax exemption for affected traders
Noted among speakers were Zulfiqar Afghani of the PPP, Haroon Safaid of the PML-N, Maulana Amanullah Haqqani, Haji Ghulam Ali and Abdul Jalil Jan of the JUI-F, Malik Adeel Awan of the Qaumi Watan Party, Sartaj Khan of the ANP, Haji Mohammad Hashmat of Jamaat-i-Islami, Khalid Ayub of the Peshawar Qaumi Jirga, trader leader Haji Mohammad Afzal, and Zafar Khattak.
JI Peshawar district emir Ateequr Rehman, former minister Hafiz Hashmat Khan, JI youth wing president Siddiqur Rehman Paracha and other party leaders were also present.
The speakers observed that long delay in the bus project’s completion had badly affected commercial activities in the city causing huge losses to traders.
They added that around 50 percent local traders had moved to other areas since the BRT was launched one and a half years ago.
The speakers alleged massive corruption in the project and regretted the escalation of its cost from the original Rs49 billion to Rs68 billion blaming it on the ruling PTI’s negligence. They asked the government to compensate traders and exempt them from all provincial taxes for a decade.
The participants unanimously approved a declaration, which demanded exemplary punishment for those responsible for delay and corruption in the BRT project.
It also appealed to the Supreme Court to ensure an impartial inquiry into corruption in the mega project and recovery of looted money.
The declaration also demanded a comprehensive compensation package for the BRT-affected traders by the provincial government.
It criticised the excise and taxation department for raiding shops and markets and sealing plazas, and flayed the Water and Sanitation Service Peshawar for sending inflated water bills to consumers.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmad said his party didn’t oppose the BRT as it was a development scheme. He, however, alleged that the project’s contract was awarded to a company on 25 percent commission in violation of the rules.
Alleging massive corruption in the project, Mr Ahmad demanded thorough probe into it.
He said the BRT had defaced the city and destroyed its historic sites.
The senator said the government uprooted more than 25,000 trees for launching the bus service and thus, harming environment and causing health problems for residents, especially police and traffic wardens doing duty in the field.
Khalid Ayub said the University Road traders were distressed by long delay in the BRT project’s completion.
He also regretted that one and a half years after the project’s launch, drains, stations and sidewalls had yet to be built, while people’s movement was restricted by slow work.
Haji Ghulam Ali, Malik Adeel, Haji Mohammad Afzal and Sartaj Khan asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to admit his government’s failure to deliver and step down immediately.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019