ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to launch the metro bus service between Peshawar Mor and Islamabad International Airport (IIA) as soon as possible.

Source said on his first day in office, Prime Minister Sharif got a briefing from CDA officials through his staff on the metro bus project which was launched by the PML-N government in 2017.

They said the CDA officials were directed to ensure early launch of the bus service, preferably from coming Saturday.

The officials told the prime minister that 30 buses for the route would reach Islamabad from China next month.

CDA told to use extra buses of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Service till arrival of 30 buses from China

However, the prime minister directed the CDA to start the service in a few days by arranging buses from the Rawalpindi Islamabad Metro Bus Service.

The sources said the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Service had extra buses currently parked in a depot.

“Yes, today the PM Office got a briefing from the CDA on the metro bus project and directed the civic agency to start the service as soon as possible,” said an officer posted to the PM Office.

The officials told the prime minister that the project was ready but the civic agency was waiting for the arrival of buses from China.

Recently, the CDA requested Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) to help it in the early delivery of the buses from China for launching the metro service.

The buses are parked at a warehouse in Shanghai as the contractor has been waiting for their transportation to Karachi for the last couple of weeks.

Sources said as per the earlier plan, the buses were supposed to reach Islamabad by March 15, but due to Covid-19, their shipment was delayed.

The sources said after a ship carrying the buses sets off from China, it will take a couple of weeks to reach Karachi. Customs clearance and transportation of the buses from Karachi to Islamabad could take another two weeks.

Earlier, the CDA after a competitive process had placed the order for procuring the buses with an international bus manufacturing company – Higer Bus Company – which had submitted a bid of Rs728 million.

Construction of the 25.6km metro track worth Rs16 billion was started in January 2017. The project was executed by the National Highway Authority (NHA) and was supposed to be completed in Aug 2018. However, the project faced delay and its civil work was completed last year.

The NHA had the responsibility of only constructing the corridor and civil work and had nothing to do with the buses’ operation.

Similarly, Punjab Mass Transit Authority, which is already running the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service, refused to run the service between Peshawar Mor and the airport and the CDA also stated that being a development authority it had nothing to do with the bus service.

The refusal of the NHA, Punjab Mass Transit Authority and the CDA put the federal government in an awkward position. Later, the government in March last year directed the CDA to take over the project from the NHA. It may be noted that the corridors and stations of the metro track have already been constructed but the command and control, ticketing, station management, cleanliness and security systems are yet to be installed for which the CDA has opened bids for awarding a contract.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2022

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