LAHORE: Giving a fresh impetus to Istanbul-Lahore friendship journey, Istanbul Mayor Dr Kadir Topbas announced on Monday that he would gift 100 buses for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

“I am very thankful to the people of Lahore and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for according me and my delegation a very impressive greeting in Lahore,” said the visiting mayor at a luncheon hosted by Mr Sharif in Raiwind ahead of the opening of the civil work of the BRT project. In the evening, he drove a bus inaugurating the BRT project on Ferozepur Road.

“And I will never ever forget this great love expressed by the people of Lahore. I announce a gift of 100 buses from the Turkish people to the people of Pakistan,” Dr Topbas said, according to a senior official of the Punjab government. With the gift announcement, Dr Topbas said as Turkey had done a great deal of work for its development, the people of Pakistan would have to show the same spirit for the development of their country.

The chief minister thanked the mayor and said he had won the hearts of people of Punjab through extending full cooperation to improve Lahore. He said Turkey was a role model for the Pakistani people.

BUSY DAY: The Turkish delegation spent a busy day in Lahore. They visited Pak-Turk School on Khayaban-e-Jinnah where the mayor inaugurated a girls’ campus. The delegation visited mausoleum of Dr Iqbal, Badshahi Mosque, Shalamar Gardens and the Government College University. Dr Topbas opened a chowk named after him at Khayaban-i-Jinnah. Wherever the delegation went, people lining either side of roads cheered and danced to welcome them.

Scores of people gathered at Naseerabad on Ferozepur Road, the point of the RBT project inauguration, and waited for hours for the arrival of the guest.

“I’m here to greet the great friend of Lahore,” said Muhammad Iftikhar, a private company employee, at Naseerabad.

Though the schedule for the RBT project opening was 12pm, the guests arrived there at 5pm owing to their hectic schedule. Mr Iftikhar braved the five-hour delay and waited for the guests.

“I’m here to see what the Turkish people want to do for us,” he said.

Scores of people, including PML-N workers, danced to drumbeats as soon as Mr Topbas and Mr Sharif arrived at the scene.

The administration of the Lahore Transport Company, TEPA, LDA, Communications and Works, Planning and Development Department and Police were also at Naseerabad to receive the chief guest.

After unveiling the plaque, the mayor drove a bus from Kalma Chowk to Naseerabad. Scores of people ran along the bus making a marathon race scene.An LTC official told Dawn the BRT was a 30-kilometre long road project stretching from Shahdara to Kahna.

“TEPA and NESPAK are the implementing agencies of the mega project while the LTC will operate buses on the specific lanes,” he said.