PESHAWAR: District Nazim Peshawar, Muhammad Asim Khan has said the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a transparent project which is operationally efficient and economical.
In a press statement issued here on Monday, District Nazim lamented that the politically-motivated propaganda had been launched against the mega project launched in the Peshawar district and hoped the referral of the BRT to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for a probe would ultimately uphold the transparency and merit of the flagship project of the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf(PTI)-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) had directed the NAB on July 19 to conduct an inquiry into the BRT.
The order was passed in a writ petition filed by Amanullah Haqqani, a former provincial minister belonging to Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl which is part of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). The NAB Chairman, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal ordered the probe the next day.
Asim Khan in a detailed response said that interestingly the petition against the BRT was filed by Amanullah Haqqani of the MMA while more interestingly Jamaat-e-Islami had recommended the PHC to forward the case to the NAB for investigation.
He said it was worth noting that Jamaat-e-Islami’s own senior minister for local government Inayatullah Khan was overseeing the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) which is supervising the BRT progress.
Asim Khan argued that the there were no allegations of corruption in the BRT Project. He said the honourable court had referred the project to the NAB to inquire as to why the cost of the project was increased from Rs49 billion to Rs68 billion and the causes for the delay in completion of the project. The Nazim said the reason is obvious as due to the necessary increase in the scope of work both cost and time went up justifiably.
“Certain changes took place in the scope of work as per recommendations and after approval of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
These were made to enhance benefits and the operational efficiency of this project besides improved facilitation of public at large,” he pointed out.
He said the project includes ‘parking and ride facility’ which will provide ample parking for cars, motorbikes, and cycles.
“Citizens will be able to park vehicles in the parking areas, run errands while benefiting from the BRT, and collect their vehicles on return.
For this purpose, six-storey plazas will be constructed in the parking lots. Around 150 additional bus stops will be added in the feeder systems that will be installed in the project,” he explained, adding over 50 quality toilet blocks would be constructed for public convenience.
Asim Khan said the project aims at benefitting the public and generate employment by providing respectable transportation services along with a source of earning as shops would be designed in commercial sector covering over 100 kanals of land.
He said the project entails a 175 kanals bus depot which can accommodate 200 buses and over 300 cars which is the first in Pakistan without a parallel in any other project across country.
The nazim believed the Peshawar BRT Project is operationally more efficient and, in the dollar terms, more economical if compared with the Lahore Metro.
He said the 28 km long Peshawar BRT is 14 km elevated, 03 km underground, and 11 km at-grade in addition to having 68 km long feeder routes with 154 bus stops as compared to 27 km Lahore Metro that is only 09 km elevated and 18 km at-grade.
The nazim said as per official record of the Peshawar BRT Project, and as confirmed from the revised PC-I submitted to the Planning Commission, the cost of the main corridor of Peshawar BRT is only Rs. 29.9 billion in 2018 that is equal to US$ 230 million as compared to the Lahore Metro’s politically announced cost of Rs 30 billion in 2012-13 which comes to be US$ 320 million today.
Asim Khan said the increased cost of this project and prolonged duration was due to the state-of-the-art features added to it.
The nazim deplored that a baseless allegation was levelled that this milestone project had been assigned to a black-listed contractor.
He said, in fact, the contractor won the financial and technical bid advertised by the ADB after fulfilling all criteria and requisites. He added that the terms and conditions were decided by the ADB, not by the KP government.