Funds shortage block Metro Bus extension: NHA

Officials tell Senate panel 25.6km route would have been completed in 2018 if they had cash

Our Correspondent December 03, 2019
A file photo of Metro Bus PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Shortage of funds is delaying extension of Metro Bus track to the Islamabad International Airport (IIA), National Highway Authority (NHA) officials said on Monday.

Extending Metro Bus route from Peshawar Mor to IIA was facing delays in completion due to shortage of funds, they said briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Communications.

Federal government had earmarked only Rs1 billion for the project in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2019-20 as compared with the required amount of Rs3.3 billion.

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Communication was held at Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Hidayat Ullah on Monday. The matter of delay in the completion of the Metro Bus route from Peshawar Mor to IIA was discussed in the meeting.

NHA officials said that the 25.6 kilometres (kms) long road had to be completed in October 2018 if the funds were disbursed timely. They added that the deadline then extended to May 2019 but the results remained unchanged.

Senator Ahmed Khan highlighted that the contractors were of the view that the project was delayed due to the shortage of funds and the onus was not on them.

He added the contractors were compelled to purchase steel privately and urged that their difficulties must be addressed.

The chairman of committee said that the timely completion of the project was the responsibility of the government.

The committee was briefed regarding progress on the road projects on the eastern, western and common routes of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In this regard, NHA officials apprised the panel that the government only allocated Rs 11 billion of the demanded Rs40 billion for the western route and added that more than half of the work on five western routes was completed. NHA officials said that they were facing the funds' issue on the western route too and emphasized that the matter be resolved at the earliest.

At this, Hidayat Ullah directed the planning division to release the halted funds for the related route and submit a report within a couple of days to the committee.

The meeting was informed that Hazara Motorway was completed and the route from Mansehra would be completed by February next year.

The committee also reviewed the matter of non-payment of affectees along Kaghan to Babusar Road. NHA officials said that the compensation amount set according to the committee recommendations was way too high which could not be paid.

The committee chairman said that the Ministry of Communications and National Highways did not even respond to the committee’s query in two months and added that the ministry should have followed the rules and informed them about the financial crisis they were facing.

Senator Salahuddin Tirmizi said he had never heard such a disappointing answer in his life. The people were deprived of their lands 17 years ago but were still longing for the compensation, he said and added that as many as 3,000 affectees should be paid for their lands according to the current rate. Tirmizi said that the matter remained in the court for around a year but could not be resolved.

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

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