Long awaited BRT to start service

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Bureau Report

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government is achieving multiple benchmarks in the arena of economic development, and it is all set to leap forward with another flagship program in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. Despite odds and plethora of allegations by the opponents, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government steered through the challenge and commitment of providing a convenient and cheaper mode of transportation in the provincial capital.
The project was pursued determinedly, and now it stands completed in all respects well before the scheduled timeframe and sooner be inaugurated with great splendour.
The multi-billion project will ensure a decent mode of transportation to Peshawarits within the city. This much-anticipated project was also indispensable in the provincial capital due to the growing population and traffic load. “The federal and provincial governments have been diligently pursuing this project despite cynical manipulation of public opinion about this flagship project merely as a publicity stunt,” said Special Assistant to the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Information and Local Government, Kamran Bangash. Congestion on roads had made the life of commuters miserable as traffic snarls on the busy road transportation had been eating up hours of travellers resulting in wastage of time and fuel. Since laying the foundation stone of the mega project, the critics of the BRT project were hell-bent upon creating various illusions and controversies about the multi-billion project just for their petty political gains.
“Those who used to say that the project will not be successful can now see that we have succeeded in executing it according to the international standard,” Kamran Bangash said. It is worth mentioning that despite many mega intra-city projects in other provinces, the successive governments in KPK remained oblivious to mounting demands of rapid and cheaper mass transportation projects.
Unfortunately, those criticizing the PTI initiated project today had been in the government for decades but failed to launch any such facility for the commuters. They had been diverting funds to projects of least importance in constituencies of either former Chief Ministers or cabinet members.
“The media should see itself that the grand project of BRT has been completed and buses on this 27 kilometres long route will start running from Thursday,” Kamran Bangash said. As it is most often challenging to deliver but easier to criticize, and the critics opted for the latter option of criticizing the PTI government. But when one goes through the facts, it is revealed that most of the arguments of the critics carry no weight. The facts negate the allegations of starting the project without a feasibility report as BRT was the only road project where there was complete technical evaluation, design, and environmental assessment before implementation.
Asian Development Bank, the largest donor of the project, oversaw the project (No 48289-001, 48289-002, and 48289-003) regularly while simultaneously releasing review reports. Analyzing the costs, the project was within the budgets, and saying it was expensive is untrue. Initially, the cost of the BRT project as per ADB documentation (Project 48289-002) was $ 570 million, equivalent to Rs 60 billion (as per the rate of 104 of dollars). Today, the dollar stands at Rs 170 due to which the cost of the project is considered Rs 100 billion and people are being confused by the opposition into believing that the provincial government has overspent, when its actually about the fluctuations in the market price of the dollar. It is pertinent to mention here that the cost of the BRT project included buses, construction of parking plazas, and hundreds of shops.
As per the agreement with ADB, the project was started in September 2017 and would have to be completed on June 30, 2021. But, it has been completed in July 2020, well before time. The BRT project covered the whole city of Peshawar from one corner of Motorway Interchange to other corners of the city that end in Karkhano, and the entire Grand Trunk (GT) Road was rehabilitated under BRT. Given these facts, the critics were left with no chance to blemish the PTI government. Had its performance been poor, the people in KPK would have not elected this party for the government once again. Bus Rapid Transit may be the only project in the country which has all the details available on ADB website including technical, environmental assessment, building, and financial matters. “The BRT buses are environment friendly and comfortable and will provide a hustle-bustle free travelling facility to people,” the Special Assistant said.