CDA, interior ministry drafting ordinance to set up mass transit authority in capital

Updated November 12, 2019

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Authority would be responsible for operating metro bus between Peshawar Mor, IIA. — Mohammad Asim/File
Authority would be responsible for operating metro bus between Peshawar Mor, IIA. — Mohammad Asim/File

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority and Ministry of Interior are drafting an ordinance to establish a Capital Mass Transit Authority (CMTA), which will be responsible for operating the metro bus service between Peshawar Mor and Islamabad International Airport (IIA).

Sources in the interior ministry said the CDA forwarded a copy of the draft ordinance to the ministry last month, and it is being reviewed. They said that if the ordinance is finalised, it will be sent to the Presidency for approval.

According to the draft, the CMTA ordinance will have no role in the authority and is only facilitating the government in finalising the draft.

Sources in the CDA said that since the CDA is a development authority, it is beyond its mandate to play any role in operating a bus service.

The sources said that officials from other ministries, including communication and planning, will be involved in the running of the mass transit authority and the minister for communication will be its chairman.

They said that the draft was prepared at the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who directed the CDA chairman to establish the CMTA during a meeting this July.

The National Highway Authority (NHA), which is executing the Rs16 billion project to construct the 25.6 kilometre track, has said construction and civil work will be completed in February next year.

The three main authorities associated with this project – the NHA, Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) and the CDA – have already refused to run the service.

The project began in January 2017 and was supposed to be completed in August 2018 and then in December 2018. The fate of its operation has yet to be decided, as sources said all the authorities are avoiding taking responsibility because a subsidy is involved in running the service.

The PMA, which runs the metro bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, has deemed the route from Peshawar Mor to IIA to be financial unfeasible.

The sources said the CDA helped the PMA execute the metro bus service in the twin cities, but had no role in its operation. The CDA has refused to take responsibility for operating the service.

Sources said the PMA was supposed to be paid an annual subsidy by the Punjab government and the federal government through the CDA, and more than Rs4bn in this regard are pending on the part of the federal government.

According to the agreement signed between the CDA and PMA in 2016, the CDA would pay 60pc of the annual subsidy while Punjab would bear 40pc.

The agreement was signed on the basis of the length of the metro bus track; 14 out of the total 24km of the track are in Islamabad. however, the CDA receives less revenue than the Punjab government because the number of passengers using the facility is higher in Rawalpindi.

When asked about the CDA’s perspective on the draft ordinance for the CMTA, CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali said: “At the moment I have no idea about the CMTA.” He said he would get back in touch with information from the concerned officials, but did not do so until this report was filed.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2019