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Metro, need or gimmick and comparison

Ghulam Idris Khan

According to Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries, “metro” is an underground railway system in a city. It is operating in big cities around the world like Paris, London, Moscow ,Washington DC and in our neighboring Indian capital New Delhi among others.

In Pakistan, what we call metro is not actually metro but Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) copied from Istanbul. In Pakistan, some projects of such nature completed had already been completed in Punjab province. In federal capital Islamabad Bus Rapid project is under construction, a corridor from Pesh-awar Morr Islamabad up to new airport, Islamabad. In KP, work started on it in October 2017.

After taking government in KP by Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf in 2013, the provincial Govt of KP asked Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) to conduct a study on urban transport network. The study was completed in 2014, with road map for government. The government of KP found it feasible to have a quality urban transport system in Peshawar. A company for this purpose has been established by the name of Trans-Peshawar. International lending agencies were contacted for financing the project.

Government of KP has been able to sign an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in September 2017 for loan of 335 Million US Dollars which is 57% of the total loan i-e 587 Million US Dollars, whereas the co financers are European Investment Bank lending 75 Million US Dollars, equal amount will be borrowed from Francaise de developpement and 102 million US Dollars by provincial Govt of KPK will be poured in for the project. The total cost will end up at PKR 61.8 Billion.

The provincial development working party (PDWP) has approved revised cost with 54% increase, the reason for the cost overrun being the incompetency of the government. As reported in national media the Govt of KP will have to repay 15 Billion Pakistani currency only as an interest on this loan to ADB beside principal amount.

The report of Asian Development Bank on the project title “PAK: Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit corridor” with the number 48289-002 dated October 2017 submitted to the government. The document says that BRT project is of high significance considering the urgent need for improving the urban transport landscape of Peshawar city.

The project will help in social and economic development of the region. The BRT with total length of 30.8 km to be constructed in phase wise, first phase being the construction of 25.8 km with 31 station running from Chamkani to Hayatabad.

While analyzing the documents, it appeared 15.5 km of the carriageway will be at grade, 5.7 km elevated and 4.6 km in tunnel, making it a 25.8 km route. There are provision of commercial plaza and parking. Procur-ement of about 383 buses of 9 meter 12 meter and 18 me-ter long buses will be done.

It is proposed that BRT will cater about 0.5 M passengers daily. The KP Govt has consumed four long years to give it practical shape, and the chief minister has directed the project management unit to complete it within six months. Due to such short duration the quality of civil works will be highly compromised. He being a professional politician knows that election is at the door step, hence  making this project to be executed hastily before the upcoming elections.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leadership was playing double game. On one hand its govt in KPK led by Pervaz Khattak was busy for initiation work on this mega project of BRT and was engaged with ADB for borrowing loan and settlement of term and condition for arrangement of funds, approval of concerned Govt departments, and other stake holders mostly international lending agencies.

On the other hand, PTI Chairman Khan was leading a campaign in public through print and electronic media and asking people as how mere a construction of road or metro service can bring prosperity and change in public life? While appearing on famous talk show with Hamid Mir on GEO TV (those days he was darling of GEO) disclosed that look “Hamid this is Gimmick, what Punjab Govt is doing in Lahore constructing Lahore Metro and it is not for the betterment of people nor beneficial, but source of corruption and commission”. He further stated that if any such move is initiated in Peshawar, he will oppose it. He called Lahore metro a JUNGLA BUS (Fenced Bus) and further stated that instead of producing energy and building hospitals, Punjab govt. wasted money on JUNGLA BUS.

One MNA from Islamabad challenged the federal Govt over the construction of Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project and claimed that he can complete this project with only 8 Billion rupees where the govt are spending 44.8 Billionn on 23 KM length. Peshawar BRT cost is more than 61 Billion. In the last week of December 2017 Chief Minister KPK  during interview with Waseem Badami of ARY network claimed thathl his government’s is not a lavish project like that of Punjab, and that provincial Govt of KPK will generate income from it, no subsidies be provided to the company.comp

According to provisional result of 6th population census of 2017 Lahore stand 2nd after Karachi. Lahore population is 11,126,285, Rawalpindi 2,098,231, Peshawar 1,970,042 and Islamabad metropolitan city is 1,014,825.

According to the census the population of Lahore is six times more than Peshawar, the provincial Govt of Punjab is extending subsidies to Lahore metro bus service. The Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro cater the twin cities with the total population of 3,113,056 of both the cities and here commuters are available because a lot of people work in federal secretariat and other important institution in Islamabad. Whereas Peshawar population is 1,970,042.

The federal govt and Govt of Punjab regularly inject money in the system in form of subsidies. Whereas with the less population of Peshawar as compared to Lahore and Rawalpindi-Islamabad, how is it going to be a profit oriented entity as claimed by CM KP with no subsidies. It is only possible through a miracle.

Lahore metro bus service was completed at the total cost of 29.8 Billionn having length of 28.7 km with 86 buses operating to fulfill the requirement of 11.26 million population. Lahore metro bus charge Rs 20 irrespective of destination. Govt of Punjab is facilitating the system in shape of subsidy on every ticket which actually cost Rs 40. The Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro service having 68 total buses in which 60 are running on road.

This project costed 44.31 Billionn Pak rupees to cover a distance of 23 km. Here the provincial Govt of Punjab and federal Govt of Pakistan share the subsidy on every single ticket and the passenger pay Rs 20. The Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit will purchase nearly 400 buses with the cost of 25.0 Million per bus in Pak rupee. Handsome foreign amount has been allocated for this purposes. One may  be surprised and shocked to know that Lahore is six time bigger than Peshawar in terms of population is operating with 86 buses, Rawalpindi-Islamabad system runs with 68 buses where the population and need is more. Then why more buses for Peshawar bus system (400) are needed. Even then the Peshawar cost is more and financing by the loan provided by Asian development Bank, will be repaid with interest and commitment according to the bank guide lines. This escalated cost is unexplained or may be this is the window of corruption and commission while he (Imran Khan) criticizes the Punjab Govt’s such projects, and calls it “GIMMICK”. PTI chairman Imran Khan and chief minister publically stated that they will not borrow even a single penny from any international lending agency for any project but reality is otherwise.

Another thing which is quite confusing that is if govt of KPK was planning for construction of an urban transport system from the start of their govt then how come they spent a huge amount of taxpayer money on the beautification of Peshawar which is astonishingly the same route as selected for the BRT. That’s millions of rupees down the drain. This shows ineffectiveness and lack of interest in proper planning and governance. Now it is up to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to think over it and decide whether they will vote for PTI in upcoming elections of 2018 after hearing all these false promises and commitments.

 

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