PM inaugurates much-awaited Peshawar BRT project

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PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan travelling on a bus after the inauguration of the BRT service on Thursday.—White Star
PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan travelling on a bus after the inauguration of the BRT service on Thursday.—White Star

PESHAWAR/KHYBER: Prime Minister Imran inaugurated the much-delayed Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) here on Thursday.

The premier went to the Chamkani bus depot at the eastern tip of the city to attend the opening ceremony in what was his first visit to the project since it was launched in October 2017.

In his short speech, Mr Khan said the project was the country’s best metro service. Since the city was located on a single traffic artery running from Chamkani to Hayatabad, the project would help alleviate traffic congestion in the provincial capital, he said.

“This single artery used to choke down due to pressure and people were forced to remain seated in their vehicles for hours on end,” the prime minister said, adding that it was also resulting into pollution.

Mr Khan said that besides 27km main corridor, the project had 60km feeder routes, which would connect all parts of the city with each other.

“It is a modern transport system which has a great significance for the city as modern transport is the first phase of development.”

Mr Khan did acknowledge that earlier he had reservations over the project. He heaped praise at federal Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, who had spearheaded the project as chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The premier said that Mr Khattak used to tell them that they would realise its importance once the project was complete. “Pervez Khattak, you were right and we were wrong,” Mr Khan said amid chuckles from the audience.

The prime minister also praised KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for “affordable transport fares.” He said that the project would also help labourers and students and would also lead to increase in per capita income in the city.

He said that the project had for the first time introduced diesel-electric hybrid buses, which would help reduce pollution in the city.

The chief minister, KP Governor Shah Farman and Pervez Khattak were present on this occasion.

The BRT corridor was opened for general public at around 5pm and a large number of locals turned to the BRT stations for a ride. Long queues of people were seen outside the BRT stations all over the city as a large number of people, including women, children and elderly, turned up to enjoy the bus ride despite scorching heat.

The project has been completed at a cost of over Rs66 billion and it had turned into an Achilles heel for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf due to frequent design changes leading to retrofitting and cost overruns. The project also missed several deadlines in the past two years.

TransPeshawar, the company formed to run bus operations, has acquired 220 buses, which will run on 27km main corridor and five off-corridor routes, including two in the city and three in Hayatabad.

Nutrition programme

Prime Minister Khan also travelled to Khyber district where he formally launched the Ehsaas Nutrition Programme for the seven merged districts during his visit to Bara sub division.

Special Assistant of the PM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar gave a briefing to Mr Khan on the nutrition programme for pregnant women and new born children at the Dogra hospital in Bara.

She said that the federal government had allocated Rs8.52 billion for the programme under which 33 Ehsaas Centres would be opened in the newly merged districts of KP.

Prime Minister Khan made a round of various sections of the hospital, administered polio drops to children to mark the beginning of a polio vaccination campaign in tribal districts and also planted a sapling in the lawns of the hospital.

The prime minister was received by the chief minister and federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri on his arrival in Bara amid tight security.

Local journalists were barred from covering the PM visit to Bara.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020