ISLAMABAD: The National Highways Authority (NHA) told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday that the Islamabad metro bus project from Peshawar Mor to the Islamabad International Airport (IIA) will likely be completed by next month.
NHA Chairman Sikandar Qayyum told the PAC that all four stations, road infrastructure and related facilities of the metro bus service would be completed in August and it would be handed over to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) without further delay.
However, Mr Qayyum said it was up to the CDA and the federal government to make arrangements and pick a date on which buses would start running on this route.
Civil work on this project was completed nearly a year ago, and has been deteriorating due to harsh weather since. The only work being carried out is the finishing of bus stations by contractors.
The NHA, which is the project’s executing agency, had claimed that it would be completed by March, but this does not include the plying of buses. Contractors engaged in the project said this deadline was unrealistic because various issues, including their unpaid dues, had not been resolved.
CDA, federal govt to make arrangements, determine when buses will start running on route, NHA tells PAC
They said the project would likely be completed by June or July.
It is believed that the government will complete the Islamabad metro bus project after it completes the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, which will likely be finished next month, since the PTI launched the BRT when it was in opposition in the centre, during the last PML-N government, but governing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The initial deadline for the project was December 2017, set by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who launched the project in June 2017.
The estimated cost of the 26 kilometre project was more than Rs18 billion. It is believed that it will be completed in Rs14bn and Rs4bn will be saved.
The project includes eight stations - seven on Kashmir Highway and one at the airport.
According to official figures, the 8km package-I is 90pc complete, the 3.8km package-II is 85pc complete and the 8.3km package-III and 5.4km package-IV are almost complete.
According to the PC-I of the project, the metro bus service includes fleet acquisition, information technology, security surveillance, automated fare collection and construction of allied infrastructure such as a command and control centre.
The PC-I for the metro bus service also includes the operation of 30 new air-conditioned buses - preferably electric - plying on a fixed time schedule. The CDA will act as the implementing agency for the project.
However, after the establishment of a capital mass transit authority, the operations of the service will be handed over to that authority.
The PAC also discussed the audit objections related to financial irregularities within the Ministry of Communication and the NHA and ordered the relevant departments to proceed against the officials responsible for embezzlement.
PAC Chairman Rana Tanvir Hussain directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general to permanently nominate the officers of BS-20 to assist the committee.
He noted that officials of NAB and the FIA have been changed almost nearly every meeting.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2020
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