ISLAMABAD: On the directives of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the city managers have created an endowment fund for the Peshawar Mor-Airport Metro Bus Service.

In this regard, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has earmarked sites for establishing four fuel stations along Srinagar Highway which will be operated by the civic agency through Pakistan State Oil (PSO).

The civic agency, through the interior ministry, wrote to the Petroleum Division for engaging the PSO for the initiative.

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed chaired a meeting, which finalised the proposal of setting up fuel stations along the metro route which will also have tuck shops and tyre shops.

Sites allocated to set up four fuel stations along Srinagar Highway to generate funds, CDA chief says

A participant of the meeting said the CDA planning wing had earmarked three sites in H-9, G-11 and G-13. However, he said, the CDA chief directed that one more site should be allocated to set up two fuel stations on either side of the highway.

When contacted, the CDA chairman confirmed that fuel stations would be set up to generate funds and bear the subsidy of the metro bus service.

“On the direction of the prime minister, we are taking steps to create an endowment fund for the metro bus service,” he said.

He said the civic agency was also working to start the blue line metro bus service from Islamabad Expressway (starting point yet to be finalised) to Faiz Ahmed station (Faizabad) and one from Bhara Kahu to Pims.

He said he had tasked his team with taking steps for launching the service within two months.

Sources in the CDA said once the fuel stations became operational, there will be around 50pc reduction in subsidy of the metro service to the airport.

They said if 20 buses were operated on the metro route, a Rs350 million subsidy would be required annually and the four fuel stations would have the capacity to generate around Rs250 million per annum.

“The endowment fund will act as lifeline for the metro,” said a CDA official.

He said the federal and Punjab governments had been bearing the annual subsidy of over Rs2.5 billion on the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service, which had no fund generating source except the sale of tickets.

Additionally, the official said, the government was paying Rs405 per km to the operator of the metro bus service. However, for the Airport Metro Service, the CDA will pay Rs140 per km which is far cheaper than the one in Rawalpindi. The civic agency procured its own buses instead of operating buses of a contractor.

“So the airport metro is far sustainable than the existing one [Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro service],” the official said.

A few weeks ago, the CDA started the airport metro bus service through 15 buses borrowed from Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Service.

Last week, a ship carrying 30 buses left China and is expected to reach Karachi on May 22.

The buses, which were supposed to be shipped in February, could not be transported to Pakistan due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Shanghai. The sources said 20 of the 30 buses will be operated on the airport route and the remaining will be utilised for the blue line service.

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. However, after the change of government in 2018, the project saw an inordinate delay.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2022

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