Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit faces cost hike

Officials say project unlikely to be completed by November

Sohail Khattak June 30, 2018
Labourers constructing a pillar of the Bus Rapid Transit project at Firdous Chowk in Peshawar. PHOTO: APP

PESHAWAR: The much-trumpeted bus project in Peshawar, which has seen half the city upended for its construction, is facing further delays with officials suggesting that the project will not be complete before “November or December”.

But as the city’s citizens face the possibility of coughing and wheezing in traffic jams for another six months, they would also have to fork out more money for the project.

Peshawar BRT launch further delayed till end of the year

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Finance Secretary Shakeel Qadir Khan, who was accompanying the Caretaker Finance Minister Abdur Rauf Khan in a press briefing on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, said that the revised project concept-I (PC-I) sent to the Planning Commission for approval had listed the total cost of the project as Rs68.7 billion.

Shakeel added that the initial cost of the project was slated to be Rs56 billion. The planning commission, however, only approved Rs49 billion for it, forcing the government to drop some key components of the project.

He added that in the revised PC-I, they had added those components back.

Moreover, he said that the project was supposed to have been included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC). As a result, the customs duties and taxes on the buses and other items being imported for the project were expected to be waived off.

“Unfortunately the project was not included in CPEC due to which the customs duties and taxes are to be paid,” he said, adding that cost of purchasing land and material for the project have increased while the plunge the rupee suffered against the dollar over the past month has also affected the costs.

The minister, meanwhile, said that they were pushing the deadline for the project since the authorities dealing the project had told him in a recent briefing that the project would be completed by “November or December.”

“The project has become very complicated and they [the government departments dealing the project] have made it very sophisticated. I would appreciate if they can complete it by November or December,” he hoped, adding that he was critical of the project before he got a briefing from the official in which he was informed about the work completed and the different components of the system to facilitate the public.

BRT suffers another setback as engineer quits

The K-P government had started the project in October 2017, with the former chief minister Pervez Khattak claiming they would complete it within six months.

April 20 was set as the first deadline to complete the project. It was, however, delayed and May 20 was set as the new deadline.

But the outgoing government failed to meet the deadline even as it resorted to chopping some heads.

The BRT Project Director and Peshawar Development Authority Director General Israrul Haq then told the media that civil work on the project will be completed by June 20. But they missed that deadline as well with plenty of work still pending.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2018.


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