Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khatak while talking to a delegation of Asian Development Bank on 28th May promised that work on Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit Project will start from 1st August, 2017.
Wit aim to overcome the problems of public transport for the commuters in the city, Pakistan Tehrek-i-Insaf led provincial government has time and again promised of establishing of comfortable public transport system in the city.
The government has planned to construct Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to ply on city roads. For this purpose, the government has approached Asian Development Bank (ADB) for soft loan. According to the documents related to the project available with Truthtracker, the ADB has approved a loan of more than Rs35 billion out of the total cost of the project which is over Rs61 billion.
Furthermore, more than Rs7 billion each will be provided as loan by European Bank and France Agency for Development while the rest of the funding will be made by the KP government.
The BRT is considered as the lone mega project to be executed by the current incumbent government which is also talk of the town. The opposition parties have also eyes on the project to check if the PTI government has the competency to complete such a mega project.
The 26-kilomter-long BRT corridor will have 31 bus stations; the documents stated and will have the capacity to carry more than 0.4 million passengers in a day. It will start from Peshawar’s Chamkani area near the main Bus Stand and its last station will be Shaukat Khanum Cancer Memorial Hospital.
The chief minister promised work on the preojct will be started on 1st August and then again they changed it to 14th August, 2017 as the ground breaking ceremony date for starting work on the project.
However, the work on the project is yet to be started for multiple reasons. The proposal of the documents submitted ADB to President of Pakistan for approval, a copy of which is available with Truthtracker stated that the KP government has stressed to complete the project before the upcoming general elections.
However, ADB in the documents shown concerns that it wouldn’t be possible but only the civil work [construction of only the corridor] can be possible to complete before 2018’s general elections.
“The complete BRT operations will be started in first quarter of 2019, the documents read, adding, all other arrangements like hiring of drivers, other staffs should be completed prior to first quarter of 2019.
An official of the department deals in with the BRT project told Truthtracker on the condition of anonymity as he wasn’t allowed to speak to media said that since the detailed design of the project hasn’t been prepared, so the government failed to fulfill the promise of inaugurating the project on 14th August.
The official said, other reason for delays in the project execution is effectiveness of the ADB loans. “The ADB loan will be effective tentatively in the outgoing month of September to disperse the funds for the project.”
Moreover, he said another major reason was major faults in it’s the design of the project which need overhaul and consultants have been hired for the purpose to remove those flaws.
Speaking to Truthtracker, Awami National Party (ANP)’s lawmaker who is opposition in provincial Assembly Syed Jafar Shah said that PTI was confined only to inaugurate projects on Facebook.
“Nothing has been practically implemented when it comes to the multi-billion rupees project,” Shah said.
Criticizing the huge amount of loans taken for the project, he said when PTI was voted into power they promised with the public that they wouldn’t take any loan for any developmental project but now more than Rs35 billion has been taken as loan from ADB.
“I don’t think taking such a huge amount of loan would be bear of the limited resources of the province. It [taking the loan back] will create problems for the government voted into power in the next general elections.”
When asked about completion of the project within six months what the PTI promised, he said it can be a dream but practically it wouldn’t be possible and will just create a mess in the city after work get started on the project.
Transportation Engineering experts consider the completion of the project within six month beyond understanding. Speaking to Truthtracker, Engr. Jehan Abid said that the project would take minimum of two years to make it fully operational.
“The main civil work can be completed within six months but completion of the other component of the project would take time in completion,” Abid argued.
Speaking to Truthtracker, Member of the BRT board and Peshawar’s Mayor Mohammad Asim said that the bidding process has been finalized and the successful bidders have been sent to the ADB.
“After the process of bidding get completed, work on the project is expected to be started in early weeks of December,” Asim said, adding, the government is committed to start work on it as soon as possible.
Keeping in view versions of officials, independent experts and observers, Truthtracker ruled that work on BRT project hasn’t been started on 1st August as per promise of the chief minister and hence the promise has been broken.
However, work is underway in its design and construction of the project will be started soon.