PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has held the federal government responsible for the delay in completion of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Peshawar.
Addressing a press conference at the Peshawar Civil Secretariat on Tuesday, the chief minister’s special assistant on transport, Shah Mohammad Wazir, said two years ago, the federal government was requested to provide railways’ land to the provincial government on lease for the construction of the BRT corridor which was more feasible than any other area.
However, Wazir alleged that the federal government turned down the request and referred the issue to a standing committee in the National Assembly. “Then after more than two years, the request for the provision of land on lease was turned down by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N),” he added.
The special assistant maintained that the federal government had pretended that it would double the size of the railway track from Peshawar to Torkham so that the land could not be provided to the provincial government.
“Had the federal government refused the provision of land on time and not delayed, the BRT would have been completed by now as the K-P government was waiting for the federal government response.”
Wazir alleged that the federal government was using delay tactics because it was jealous of the development work carried out by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led provincial government.
Confusion in BRT cost
Talking about the cost of the BRT system, Wazir said the total expenditure had been estimated at Rs49.346 billion, of which Rs41.86 billion would be provided by the Asian Development Bank as soft loan for 25 years while the rest would be contributed by the government.
He added that the cost per kilometre of the Peshawar BRT would be Rs1.22 billion which was 82 per cent less than the Rs2.22 billion per kilometre spent on the metro service in Lahore.
However, contrary to Wazir’s claims about the cost, the budget documents of the K-P government for the fiscal year 2017-18 show that the loan to be provided by the ADB for the BRT construction was estimated at Rs44.60 billion while no details were mentioned about the total cost neither in the budget documents nor in the budget speech.
The preliminary cost documents prepared in March this year for the BRT, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, shows total cost of the project to be Rs55.9 billion, of which Rs48.18 billion will be the ADB’s loan and Rs7.72 billion will be provided by K-P government.
Wazir said work on the project would probably start in August and completed in six to eight months. The project, he added, would be constructed in three phases. In phase-1, work will be started from Chamkani to Firdous Cinema Chowk.
In the second phase, work from Firdous Cinema Chowk to Aman Chowk would be completed and then the Aman Chowk to Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital segment will be started in phase-3.
A K-P transport department official, who participated in the preparation of the preliminary design of the BRT system, told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the delay occurred because of the incompetency of the high-ups involved in the project.
The official said the federal government had nothing to do with the delay as it had already refused to provide the land for a valid reason in the initial days. “The delay occurred owing to changing of the project design multiple times which cost millions to the exchequer despite the fact that the feasibility study of the project was approved in 2015.”
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