Over 4,000 commuters used metro bus service on opening day in capital

Published April 19, 2022
Metro buses ply on the Peshawar Mor-Islamabad airport track after the service was launched by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Metro buses ply on the Peshawar Mor-Islamabad airport track after the service was launched by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday inaugurated the Peshawar Mor to Islamabad International Airport Metro Bus Service, a project which saw a delay of four years for completion.

The bus service, which will be free for the commuters in Ramazan, was used by over 4,000 people on the opening day. Another bus service - Blue Line - between Rawat and Faizabad is also in the pipeline which could be started in a couple of months.

Accompanied by PML-N leaders, including Marriyum Aurangzeb, Hanif Abbasi, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Anjum Aqeel, former mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz and Chinese diplomats, the prime minister opened the service and also took a ride on a bus and inspected the development and repair work carried out on a war footing in the last about four days.

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed while briefing the prime minister said a bus would be available after every five minutes from Peshawar Mor to the N-5 station (Chungi No 26). Four buses, especially designed to also carry luggage, will cater to passengers going to the airport. These four buses will be leaving the station at Peshawar Mor after an interval of 25 minutes.

PM told that batch of 10 buses expected to arrive from China next month will be operated between Rawat and Faizabad

The CDA chief also said next month a fleet of 30 buses would be reaching from China, out of which 10 would be operated between Rawat and Faizabad.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets staff of the metro bus service on Monday. — White Star
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets staff of the metro bus service on Monday. — White Star

A few days ago when the prime minister directed the civic agency to start the bus service within days, the CDA after completing the work on war-footing also borrowed 15 buses from the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service. These will be returned after receiving the buses from China next month.

Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister said the project which should have been completed four years ago had become a dead project due to the negligence of the previous government. He criticised the PTI government for ignoring the public welfare project.

He appreciated former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for launching the project for the citizens of Islamabad in 2017.

He was informed that there was a Rs20 million fund for the development of horticulture long the metro track which remained under-utilised. However, now the CDA will use the fund properly.

The prime minister appreciated the CDA chairman and his team and officials of other organisations such as the NHA for their extraordinary efforts to make the bus service operational in four days. The premier a few days ago had also directed the CDA for carrying out a feasibility study on operating metro buses on the Bhara Kahu-Peshawar Mor and Rawat routes.

Work on the 25.6km metro bus track worth Rs16 billion was started by the PML-N government in 2017. It was supposed to be completed within a 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 then federal government the CDA took over the project and started the process of procuring buses and setting up the command, control and ticketing systems.

Few months ago, the CDA ordered an international company to manufacture 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 arranged 15 buses from the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service for plying on the airport route.

This neglected project caught the attention of the prime 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 remained on their toes to launch the service.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2022

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