PESHAWAR: The ruling Awami National Party (ANP) on Thursday revealed a mass transit system (MTS) is in the offing to help cope with surmounting traffic problems in the provincial capital.
“A special initiative feasibility study on an MTS for Peshawar, under the technical assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ABD), worth $372,000 has been approved,” provincial Minister for Transport Mian Iftikhar Hussain said during a news conference at the Officers Mess.
“The terms of reference have been prepared and hiring of international consultants/experts is under process.”
Hussain added the feasibility report would be complete in the coming six months and would help decide if a railway system will be employed or the roads widened. Hussain also said the project would be extended to other cities once it is successfully implemented in Peshawar.
He admitted encroachments in the city had rendered many major roads non-functional. He said a growing population along with internally displaced people flocking to the city had resulted in closure of roads due to security concerns.
Hussain maintained such issues could be resolved by further strengthening the transport department, as opposed to delegating powers across a number of departments. He said some powers presently lay with the excise and taxation department while others with the traffic police, and the government is now trying to bring all under the umbrella of the transport department.
“There was no transport department at all when we took over the government in 2008. Now, we are in the process of streamlining it,” said Hussain, whose party is less than two months away from completing its tenure.
The transport minister also apprised the participants of the conference about some of the provincial government’s achievements in revamping the transport system.
A lease agreement with Daewoo Bus Service has been renewed at a monthly rent of Rs1.2 million compared to the Rs0.2 million agreement signed earlier.
The Vehicular Emission Testing Station (VETS) of Peshawar has also been replicated in three more districts – DI Khan, Abbottabad and Mardan. From July 2009 till December 2012, VETS has checked 144,882 vehicles and generated revenue of Rs16.59 million.
He added the government has now started to issue computerised route permits for Regional Transport Authority and Provincial Transport Authority Peshawar to ensure transparency and avoid pilferage.
“To strengthen mobility between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the government has also increased the number of route permits from 6 to 13 for better provision of public transport services between the two states.”
According to Hussain, the transport department has generated Rs493.1 billion against the target of Rs580.9 billion during the last four and a half years.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2013.
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