PESHAWAR: Months long dispute between the provincial government and the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit contractors over the nonpayment of dues is leading to the suspension of the bus service tomorrow (Wednesday) as warned by one of the companies.

The board of directors of TransPeshawar, the government-owned company, which is responsible for the operations of mass transit, is scheduled to meet today (Tuesday) to discuss the dispute.

Also in the day, provincial governor Haji Ghulam Ali will chair a meeting on the issue.

In a related development, the provincial government on Monday assigned additional charge of the TransPeshawar chief executive to a bureaucrat for a period of three months.

Daewoo Pakistan, the contractor operating the 244 buses fleet of the bus service, has Rs750 million dues to be cleared by the government, while the due payments of other contractors total around Rs300 million.

TransPeshawar BoD, governor hold meetings today over delay in payments to contractors

In a letter on June 3, Daewoo informed the transport and mass transit secretary that the payment of Rs754 million to the bus operator had been delayed for the last three to four months despite the availability of the funds with the government-owned company managing the bus service.

It said that this delay had an adverse effect on the operational expenses including procurement of diesel, lubricants and parts related to electricity and salaries to the company for BRT operations.

“Taking into account these circumstances, we will continue the BRT Peshawar services by Tuesday only with an arrangement of fuel. If TransPeshawar doesn’t release the overdue payment of Rs754 million on Monday, we will be compelled to suspend the BRT Peshawar operations from Wednesday June 7 due to non-payment,” it said.

It added that the nonpayment of dues by the government had caused severe financial stress for the company.

On Friday, the Asian Development Bank and French Development Agency, two of the main lenders of the Peshawar BRT, had asked the KP government for immediate payment of dues to the contractors warning its failure to sort out the issue will negatively impact their partnership for the province’s development.

“This breach, if not rectified promptly, will have serious consequences for the ongoing projects, future loans, and the continuation of the co-financing being provided by the AFD for the Peshawar BRT project,” the two noted in the communication.

On the other hand, the transport department on Monday appointed acting chief executive officer of TransPeshawar, the government-owned company, which runs the operations of the mass transit.

In an official communication, secretary of the transport department said that the CEO’s position had been lying vacant for two months after the resignation of Fayaz Khan, so Mr Arshad Khan Afridi, an officer of the PMS cadre and managing director of KP Urban Mobility Authority, had been given the additional charge of the CEO to address management issues.

It read that the management issues of the company remained unresolved and Daewoo Pakistan started writing letters to government functionaries, which were widely covered in the media bringing a bad name to the government.

“Sensing the grave management issues, which could lead to the shutting of the BRT service, the undersigned found it necessary to find out ways to resolve the longstanding management issues and take extreme step in the best interest in the best interest of the public by withdrawing the additional charge of the TransPeshawar CEO from the KUPMA MD and assign the same to additional secretary transport and mass transit department,” it read.

The letter said additional secretary transport department Mr Shah Saud had been given the additional charge of the CEO of TransPeshawar for a period of three months and that the appointment would be placed before the company’s board on Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2023

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