PESHAWAR: As if the construction delays and a now paused corruption probe was not enough, the mass transit project being built in the provincial capital has run into another problem.

The canteen for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been sealed by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Food Safety and Halal Food Authority after it was discovered that unhygienic food was being served in a canteen for the project’s employees.

Officials at the food authority stated that usually, they receive complaints from people frequenting different hotels and restaurants with requests to check the quality of food, water and other items being served to the public.

However, sometimes the authority makes surprise visits to establishments serving food to people.

“It is not necessary that every time you conduct raids based on public complaints, but since we already have a workforce and since we are entitled under the rules, we can check anything, anytime, anywhere,” a senior official told The Express Tribune about the raid on the BRT canteen.

“We just wanted to check things and then we found that food and water being served to BRT employees was unhygienic,” stated the official, who did not wish to be named since he was not entitled to speak to media.

He stated that hundreds of employees of the BRT project are served food and water at a BRT employees’ canteen, adding that the employees there could not complain about the unhygienic conditions since they feared they could lose their jobs.

Later, in a statement issued by the authority, K-P Food Authority Spokesperson Ataullah Khan stated that the authority’s team had raided a canteen located in Phase-(III) in the Hayatabad area of the city on Friday and sealed it for violation of the Food Safety Act 2014.

Ataullah added that Assistant Director Saira Nisar and her team had conducted the raid to check items served at the canteen. After the site was inspected, it was discovered that the food and water served for employees of Peshawar’s BRT was unhygienic.

He further shared that doctors from the nearby Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) had reported several cases of food poisoning amongst employees of the project and noted that it could be one of the reasons why the authority had raided the canteen.

The authority already conducts mandatory blood tests for all those directly or indirectly involved in handling different food items, including workers of ice factories and grocery shops.

The directions were issued to those who had applied for food licences from the authority but when checked, blood samples of many of those involved in such businesses had tested positive for Hepatitis ‘B’ and ‘C’ in Kohat.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2018.