ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has requested Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) to help it in getting an early delivery of 30 buses from China so that the Metro Bus Project from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad Airport could begin.

Meanwhile, the CDA is also going to open financial bids on Monday (today) for installation of equipment at seven bus stations and a platform at the airport.

Sources in the CDA said as per the earlier plan, buses were supposed to reach Islamabad by March 15 but their departure from China had been delayed.

“We have requested PNSC to help CDA. As per agreement, bringing buses from China is the responsibility of the contractor but PNSC’s help was sought in this regard as currently due to Covid-19 issues, the contractor is facing difficulty in getting space in ships,” said an officer of CDA.

He said whenever the ship carrying buses would set off from China, it would take a couple of weeks to reach Karachi whereas after custom clearance, bringing buses from Karachi to Islamabad could also take two weeks.

CDA to open financial bids for installation of equipment, platform at bus stations today

“So, I guess, there is no chance of starting operation of this bus service in April,” said an official.

CDA sources said when the buses arrive, the authority would also use some of them for running a public bus service from Expressway to Faisal Mosque, adding that it would help ease traffic congestion on the expressway to some extent.

The CDA, after a competitive process, had placed the order for procuring 30 buses to an international company called Higer Bus Company, which had submitted a bid of Rs728 million.

Construction of the bus track (25.6km) worth Rs16 billion began in January 2017. The project was executed by National Highway Authority (NHA) and it was supposed to be completed in August 2018 but the project saw delay of some years and its civil work was completed last year.

However, after completion of civil work, a new issue arose, when the NHA stated that its responsibility was only to construct corridors and do civil work and it had nothing to do with the operation of buses.

Similarly, Punjab Masstransit Authority, which is already running Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro bus service, also refused to run the service and the CDA also stated that being a development authority it had nothing to do with the bus service.

The refusal of NHA, Punjab Masstransit Authority and CDA put the federal government in an awkward position, therefore, the government directed the CDA to take over the project in March last year from the NHA and take steps to procure buses to start operation.

The corridors and stations of the metro track have already been constructed and now command and control, ticketing, station management, cleanliness and security systems will be installed.

The CDA will reportedly award contract for operation and maintenance of command and control, ticketing, station management, cleanliness and security systems.

This contract will be completed in six months, however, CDA officials said that when buses will arrive (before completion of this project), the civic authority under interim arrangements of manual ticketing will start operation of the bus service.

“There will be no delay in starting the bus service; we are just waiting for the buses and will start the service through interim arrangements,” the officer said.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2022

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