CM Mahmood sacks officials over Peshawar BRT delays

PDA denies any kickbacks in the project; K-P information minister says it is most transparent project


Umer Farooq April 03, 2019
PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: For the first time after taking over charge as chief executive of the province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan sacked officials over delay in Buss Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

Following a report published in The Express Tribune where the provincial inspection team found the BRT route full of flaws delaying the project and ultimately failing to meet the deadline, secretary transport and mass transit and director general of Peshawar Development Authority were sent home packing.

The inspection report submitted by the Provincial Inspection Team to K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan expressed serious reservations over the entire project by stating the project was initiated without any comprehensive plan. The team found that the route was constructed without feasibility, geotechnical, sewerage, traffic and water supply studies, among other reports, being undertaken before construction of the route.

On Monday, two notifications were issued one after another with the first carrying transfer orders of the former Secretary Transport and Mass Transit Kamran Rehman Khan and the second issued later in the evening carrying transfer orders of the former Director General Peshawar Development Authority Israrul Haq. Both were reportedly transferred following the inspection team’s report submitted to the chief minister.

On the other hand, K-P government has termed BRT project as one of the most transparent projects of the K-P government. A statement issued by K-P Minister for Information Shaukat Yousafzai stated that the claim of receiving kickbacks was baseless and that the inspection team’s report was related to traffic and the general public.

Yousafzai, in a statement issued on Monday, stated that a trial-based inaugural of the project was held recently.

Through BRT, he said, the general public will be offered the best transportation services. Changes into the project were approved in larger public interest, he said.

“BRT is the only third-generation transit project in the region and the flyovers were meant to maintain smooth flow of the traffic,” the statement quoted Yousafzai as saying.

Rejoinder

The Peshawar Development Authority in its statement has refuted The Express Tribune report on BRT project stating that PDA has yet to see the Provincial Inspection Team report.

“PDA vehemently refutes the article published in The Express Tribune on April 01, 2019 for its baseless accusations and fallacious expressions just to create sensationalism and cause wilful damage to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government,” it said.

PDA said the newspaper quoted from the report of PIT merely one week of its’ handing over to the K-P government when the executing agency has not yet been privy to the same PIT report.

Regarding lack of planning, PDA said the initial study for the project started in November 2013 under the Transport and Mass Transit Department with a grant from Asian Development Bank under The Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) program and as a result a “20 Years Transport Strategy” for the city was devised in addition to a “10 Year Transport Action Plan” and “Pre-feasibility Study for Rail and Bus Options” was also developed for Peshawar City.

It is difficult to comprehend the view of the writer that a traffic signal in Peshawar, where traffic has been allowed to run haphazardly for years, causing jams, delays and accidents would cause a further mess or bottleneck more than that what already obtains in Peshawar.

It is once again reiterated that the revised cost of BRT project is Rs66 billion and it will not escalate further, PDA said.

The project has undergone upgrades at 12 different locations which contributed greatly to the efficient operation of the BRT system, it said.

The temporary woes currently being felt are to be considered as the birth pains for the emerging modern day Peshawar which this administration is determined to deliver which will render this City as the envy of all of Pakistan, it said.

PDA also denied that The Express Tribune contacted PDA DG Israrul Haq for his comments.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2019.

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