Previous cabinet was briefed about BRT months after start of work: ex-minister

Published August 3, 2021
This file photo shows Jamaat-i-Islami's Inayatullah Khan. — Photo Courtesy: Facebook/File
This file photo shows Jamaat-i-Islami's Inayatullah Khan. — Photo Courtesy: Facebook/File

PESHAWAR: Member of the opposition Jamaat-i-Islami Inayatullah Khan, who had served as a minister in the last Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, on Monday disclosed in the provincial assembly that the then cabinet was given presentation about the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project six months after physical work was launched.

“The BRT was never discussed in the cabinet meetings and a presentation to cabinet members was made six months after the execution of the project,” said the lawmaker, who was the senior minister for local government in the PTI-JI coalition government (2013-18) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Govt tells PA that concerns of lawmakers on transport system will be addressed

During the question hour, the lawmaker said the local government department had nothing to do with the BRT and the transport department was handling the project. “I pray for the success of this project,” he said.

The Peshawar BRT project with launched in 2018 at the total cost of Rs66 billion and was scheduled for completion in 2021. The bus service on the main corridor began in Aug 2020 and was extended to few feeder routes afterwards. However, work has yet to be completed on two main depots and other allied facilities.

Responding to a query, special assistant to the chief minister on information Kamran Khan Bangash expressed surprise about the remarks of the former minister but didn’t contest the statement of the former coalition partner.

“Surprisingly, he (Inayat) was member of the assembly and was a senior minister in the cabinet at that time,” he said, adding that the Peshawar Development Authority, the project execution agency, also worked under the local government minister.

In a written reply, the government informed the assembly that Rs53.32 billion loan for the project.

It said according to the original PC-I of the project, $400 million loan was obtained from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the Pakistani rupee-US dollar exchange rate of Rs104.7.

After a revised PC-I, the government received $8.384 million additional loan from the bank at the Pakistan rupee-US dollar exchange rate of Rs112. In addition, the French Development Agency (AFD) gave €75 million loan for the project at the rupee-Euro exchange rate of Rs140. According to the written reply, the government would start paying back the loan in 2023 and entire loan would be paid back by 2042.

Responding to another question, the government admitted that it was not happy with the current system of transport in the city and the government was trying hard to set things right and improve the transportation services.

Mr Bangash informed the house that the relevant department had been directed to devise the Traffic Management Planfor the provincial capital.

He said Rs100 billion would be spent on the improvement of infrastructure of Peshawar claiming that the situation had improved during the last seven years.

The chief minister’s aide said the missing link of the Ring Road was at an advanced stage, while the BRT service would be extended to all feeder routes.

He said concerns of the lawmakers related to the transport system would be addressed.

Awami National Party’s Khushdil Khan advocate said work on the northern bypass had been in limbo for the last eight months.

He said the government had yet to pay the landowners and that the government should take up the matter with the centre.

The federal government is financing the northern bypass project.

The opposition lawmakers regretted the delay in work on various roads in the province, including the Indus Highway, which connected Peshawar with Karak, all the way up to Dera Ismail Khan. They said motorists had been suffering due to the delayed work on the Indus Highway.

Special assistant to the chief minister on communication and works Riaz Khan informed the lawmakers that 70 per cent work on the highway had been completed.

He said the project’s completion period was Nov 2022 and that the federal government was funding the project.

The chair referred the question regarding the highway to the relevant committee of the house.

The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Probation and Parole Bill, 2021, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home-Based Workers (Welfare and Protection) Bill, 2021. The government blocked some amendments proposed by the opposition to the bills through voting.

It also introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shops and Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The chair adjourned the sitting until 2pm today (Tuesday).

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021

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