Peshawar: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government had promised to launch air-conditioned bus service in Peshawar to provide speedy and comfortable travelling facilities to the commuters.
In 2015, Chief Minister KP Pervaiz Khattak had chaired a meeting in which he approved the plan, said a handout. However, there is no progress in sight regarding that promise.
During the course of that meeting, it was agreed that the CNG bus project would be introduced by multinational ‘Bucephalus’ Transport Company under a public-private partnership.
The bus service was to be launched in June 2015. The bus is estimated to cover the 25-kilometre journey in 50 minutes with two minutes stop at every station, said the handout.
Truth Tracker approached Malik Shah Muhammad Khan Wazir, special assistant to chief minister for transport who commented that the Mass Transit System (MTS) in Peshawar is starting from Chamkani Motorway Interchange to Hayatabad, which would be started from March 2017 and be completed in March 2018.
He said that the MTS is a Rs. 39 billion project to be funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). As many as 400 buses would include in the fleet in the first phase and the project would generate record number of employment opportunities, he added.
Wazir stated that the construction of the project would be carried out on international standard. The estimate for the survey has been completed but the design is yet to be finalized, he said. He also said, he said Japan has donated 14 buses for female passengers, he added.
Behramand Jan, press secretary to chief minister, said there are seven link routes for the air-conditioned bus fleet. He said the new project in the provincial metropolis would be launched before June 2016 and to be completed in one year.
When approached for comments, Sahibzada Sanaullah, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), ridiculed that he didn’t see even a donkey cart introduced by the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) in Peshawar City, and that the air-conditioned project is a distant dream.
When asked that the PTI plans to launch the project from March this year, he said: “The PTI could not launch the project for the last three-and-a-half years in power and how is it possible for them at a time when they have one-and-a-half year term left.”
The province, he iterated is in worst financial crisis and all development activities are at standstill and there is no money for salaries’ payment. “The PTI though doesn’t announce it publicly otherwise the province is virtually bankrupted,” he remarked. And in this situation it is nearly impossible to launch the massive project, he added.
Sayed Jaffar Shah, a lawmaker from Awami National Party (ANP), said he doesn’t think the PTI is in a position to launch this ambitious scheme because the province is experiencing political, administrative and financial crisis.
“The PTI understands that its popularity graph is going down and has badly failed to deliver on their promises. It (launching of bus service) is a failed attempt and they can’t launch,” Shah added. He also questioned whether there was a single promise the PTI has fulfilled. Shah has zero expectations the PTI will start the bus project.
Aqeel Yousafzai, a Peshawar based senior analyst, said that the province is facing acute financial crisis for the first time. “The provincial government is hardly managing paying salaries to officials,” he added.
He said for the last three years the PTI has been talking about initiating the project but they could not even point out a land for routes of the buses.
“The announcement is genuine to the extent of papers but ground realities are totally different,” Yousafzai added.
There were a wide range of areas where the PTI was in a position to deliver and improve the situation during the last three years but they couldn’t, he argued.
“This project seems a political gimmick to win favor and support of people for next elections,” he added.
PTI’s original plan was to complete the project in June 2015. Now, the KP Government’s official say the project would start before June 2017. Even if the KP government starts and completes the project in one year, it would be taken as a political move to win votes in Election 2018. The Truth Tracker rules that the PTI compromised the promise.