PESHAWAR: With the provincial capital facing massive traffic snarl-ups as roads are dug up for the construction of the Bus Rapid Transit project, judges at the top provincial court have asked traffic cops to explain what plans they have to mitigate the situation.
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday directed the Traffic Police officials to appear before the court within 24 hours and explain what arrangements they have made to manage the traffic rush on the roads due to the construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
Basic structure of BRT to be built in six months, PHC told
A two-member bench of the PHC comprising Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Syed Afsar Shah was hearing a writ petition filed by Maulana Amanullah Khan Haqqani of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) who had challenged the construction of the project, terming it as ‘legally and technically unfeasible.’
During Wednesday’s hearing, the petitioners told that court that despite building such a mega project, the K-P government had failed to devise a proper traffic plan for the city.
“As reported in daily newspapers, traffic on the roads has come to a standstill due to faulty [traffic] management,” the petitioner stated, accusing the government and traffic authorities of failing to properly plan for the traffic chaos before launching the project.
Chief Justice Yahya Afridi on Wednesday told K-P Advocate General Abdul Latif Yousafzai to bring before the court the concerned officials of the traffic police to explain how were alternative routes being managed.
Further, the K-P Environment protection Agency director general had told the court on Tuesday that his agency was satisfied with the efforts of the government despite the fact that the city has only one major road with few alternative routes available, causing massive traffic jams.
The petitioner, in his arguments, had raised several others issues concerning the project as well, including questions relating to the BRT project’s financial viability.
“Financially, it will not be viable, it will be a burden on the meagre kitty of the province,” Muhammad Isa Khan, the petitioners’ lawyer, argued.
The lawyer added that if the project is for the welfare of the population, the government has to subsidies its’ cost, noting that no such corridor in the world operates without subsidy from the government.
With the K-P government sure that the project will be able to pay for its own expenditures, Isa said that the government had failed to explain how that would be possible.
The petitioner also claimed that the company contracted to build the BRT had been blacklisted by the Lahore Development Authority. However, Shumail Butt, the counsel for the company, presented the verdict of Lahore High Court which had cleared the company of any wrongdoing.
The petitioner also raised the issue of the government failing to issue notices to procure land for the project. However, the advocate general said that the government is only procuring around 80 kanals of land in Chamakani, for which section 4 has been enforced.
Peshawar BRT project is illegal, claims JUI-F
“Besides this, the government will not procure land for the project,” Yousafzai declared before the court. “The corridor will only pass through GT Road.”
The case was subsequently adjourned till Thursday (today) as the court directed advocate general to submit the no-objection certificate obtained from the cantonment board, the contract documents signed by the contractor and notifications of section 4 in Chamkani.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2017.