ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered full completion of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system in Peshawar without further delay.
On the matter of the reopening of the construction industry, the prime minister was apprised by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through video link on Monday that the entire civil works (a 32km road, underpasses and overhead track) of the project had been completed, but its full completion was facing a delay of another one month due to the coronavirus crisis.
“The prime minister was updated on the BRT project and he expressed satisfaction over 100 per cent completion of civil works,” KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousufzai told Dawn.
“The prime minister has been updated on the project and that it will be delayed by one month due to coronavirus situation,” he added.
Minister says project is cheapest in all metro projects ever executed in country
He said the prime minister was satisfied over the work done on the BRT and urged the provincial government to complete the remaining work as soon as possible.
When PM Khan allowed running of trains to provide transport facility to the poor and low income class amid the coronavirus crisis, people have also demanded reopening of all metro bus services in the country.
A document available with Dawn said total 32km BRT track elevated, underground and at-grade (ground level) dedicated track and 64km feeder routes have been completed.
It said the BRT was Pakistan’s first 3rd generation metro bus with feeder (linked) routes of 64km.
The document said the BRT was the cheapest in all metros ever made in Pakistan.
Talking about the cost of the BRT project, KP Information Minister Yousufzai said there were different figures being quoted in the media regarding the cost of the project but the fact was its total cost was Rs37 billion and, therefore, it was cheapest in all merto projects ever executed in the country. “In terms of length and other aspects of the BRT, it is the cheapest of all metros in the country,” he added.
He said some of media reports had quoted the BRT’s cost as Rs70 billion and some took it to R100 billion which was absolutely wrong. “The actual cost of the BRT was Rs29 billion but due to some additional work, that was included later in the project, it cost went up to Rs37 billion,” he added.
Mr Yousuafzai said the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), which was the executing agency of the BRT, had added 66km roads in the road network of Peshawar and also building some commercial plazas which were not parts of the BRT. “But, unfortunately this additional 66km roads and commercial plazas were being considered as parts of BRT which is totally wrong,” he added.
Talking about the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) system, he said the remaining work of the whole project was scheduled to be completed by June this year, but due to coronavirus crisis its completion might take another month.
One of the main problem confronting the authorities was that most of consultants of the project were foreign nationals and they had returned to their country due to Covid-19 outbreak. “We are also waiting for them (foreign consultants) so that the stalled work can be resumed,” he said, adding that the work would be restarted in a couple of days.
Answering a question regarding buses for the BRT, he said initially the provincial government would ply rented buses.
The bus project, which was launched in October 2017, was initially to be completed in April 2018. However, the first deadline was missed. Thereafter, the project managers kept changing the launch dates from May 20 to June 30 to Dec 31 in 2018 and March 23, 2019.
The KP government had informed the apex court earlier in February that the project would be completed by the end of July.
A National Accountability Bureau probe ordered by the Peshawar High Court into the alleged corruption in the BRT project was stopped in September 2018 by a Supreme Court bench headed by then chief justice Saqib Nisar.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2020