ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif while ordering an inquiry into the inordinate delay in the launch of the metro bus service from Peshawar Mor to Islamabad International Airport (IIA) on Thursday directed the civic agency to start the service from Saturday.
The prime minister visited the metro bus track early on Thursday. He got a briefing from Capital Development Authority (CDA) ChairmanAmer Ali Ahmed about the project and directed that the bus service should be launched from Saturday and it should be free for commuters in Ramazan.
The prime minister also directed for carrying out a feasibility study on operating metro buses on the Bhara Kahu-Peshawar Mor and Rawat routes.
Flanked by party leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Hanif Abbasi, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Anjum Aqeel and several bureaucrats, the prime minister said the metro bus project should have been completed years ago.
He said Rs16 billion had been spent on the project but it was still incomplete.
“Metro bus project from Peshawar Mor to the airport is still incomplete after five years. Have ordered an inquiry into delay & quick completion of remaining work.Unfortunate that public welfare project suffered delays & cost overruns. Almost all sectors of economy remained stagnant under Imran Khan,” the prime minister tweeted.
He added: “Mass transit systems are the way forward to provide citizens dignified, inexpensive & environment-friendly transport service. Have ordered feasibility report on expanding the network of Metro Bus System to other areas of the Capital.”
Earlier, while taking a ride on a metro bus for inspecting the track, the prime minister also directed for repair work on the track.
The 25.6 km metro bus track worth Rs16 billion was started by the PML-N government in 2017 and supposed to be completed within one year. But after change of the government in 2018, the project saw an inordinate delay.
The project was executed by the National Highway Authority (NHA) and last year on the direction of the federal government the CDA took over the project and started the process of procuring buses and setting up command, control and ticketing systems.
Few months ago, CDA had ordered to hire an international company which manufactured 30 buses in China. The buses were supposed to reach Islamabad last month for opening of the project on March 23.
But due to the Covid-19 cases in Shanghai, the buses could not be shipped to Pakistan and are now expected to arrive in Karachi on May 5. However, as a stop-gap arrangement, the CDA has arranged 15 buses from the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service, which will be operated on the Peshawar Mor-IIA route.
The CDA has also opened bids for awarding the contract for establishing the command, control and ticketing systems for the metro service. However, until the systems are installed, the buses would be operated though manual arrangements.
The project caught the attention of the prime minister on his first day in office when he directed the CDA to take steps to launch the service within five days. Since then, officials of the CDA, NHA and other concerned departments have been on their toes to launch the service.
The prime minister even pressed the CDA to run the bus service on Thursday but the CDA chairman requested him for two days, saying lane marking required time.
A citizen, Abid Khan, said the new prime minster should be given credit for starting the bus service.
“The previous government showed no seriousness in making the project operational,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2022