PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is likely to announce the date for the formal launch of the much-delayed Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service on Aug 10.
Spokesman for the government Kamran Khan Bangash told Dawn that a meeting regarding the bus service’s launch would be held on Aug 9 or 10, where Chief Minister Mahmood Khan would be briefed about the bus project.
“The chief minister himself would announce a date for formal opening of the BRT project in light of the discussions at the meeting,” he said.
Mr Bangash said the provincial government didn’t want any issue to arise during the service’s launch, so all aspects of the project would be discussed in the meeting.
He said all aspects of the project, including the main corridor and installation of intelligent transport system, were in place and operational, while the buses were making trial runs on the corridor.
The spokesman said the provincial government had also decided to give away 100,000 Zu Card to the residents free of charge and their distribution was under way at BRT stations. He said the people were allowed to board buses during trial runs.
Long queues of the people seeking BRT cards are witnessed at BRT stations throughout the city.
The TransPeshawar company, which will manage the BRT operations, had announced bus fares last month.
According to it, ride of 5-10 kilometers will cost Rs10.
The company will charge commuters Rs20 for travel up to 15 kilometers, Rs25 for up to 20 kilometers and Rs50 for up to 40 kilometers.
It has also announced fines for pedestrians and vehicles entering the bus corridor.
In last meeting, the provincial cabinet had approved the appointment of Fayyaz Khan as the chief executive officer of TransPeshawar.
Work on the bus project had begun in Oct 2017 with the then chief minister, Pervez Khattak, setting six months deadline for its completion at the cost of Rs49 billion.
However, the frequent design changes and resulting retrofitting caused the project to miss the deadline and increased its cost by Rs17 billion to a staggering Rs66.43 billion.
Thereafter, the project managers kept changing the service launch date from May 20 to June 30 to Dec 31 in 2018 and March 23, 2019, and June 2020. However, the service wasn’t launched due to design and other issues.
In Sept 2018, a Supreme Court bench headed by the then chief justice, Saqib Nisar, stopped a National Accountability Bureau probe ordered by the Peshawar High Court into the alleged corruption in the BRT project.
In Dec 2019, the Peshawar High Court ordered the Federal Investigation Agency to look into the alleged corruption in the project.
A five-member FIA team formed in line with the court’s judgement had submitted its report to the court at the end of January. However, the apex court also stopped the agency from probing the project at the start of Feb this year.
Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2020