Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif inspected parts of the Metro Bus Service project, without security and protocol, for three hours during the rain on Sunday, according to a press release from the Directorate General of Public Relations (DGPR).
The chief minister began his visit at Shahdara and stopped at every bus station all the way to Ittefaq Hospital and reviewed the work, accompanied by LDA Director General Ahad Cheema and others. He also inspected the under-construction Kalma Chowk underpasses.
The MBS, which will operate on a 27-kilometre bus corridor from Gajju Mata to Shahdara – including an 8-km elevated expressway on February 10.
Talking to people at various sites, the chief minister said that the infrastructure built for the MBS was “a masterpiece of architecture” and the project “a unique example of transparency, [high] standards and speed”, according to the DGPR press release.
Sharif said that the project, which he repeatedly described as “the biggest in the country’s history”, would rid Lahore of its traffic problems. It was also a unique project in Pakistan as it addressed the needs of the poor, he added.
The Punjab government executed the project at a cost of Rs30 billion, he said, while the federal government – or President Asif “Zardari and his cronies”, as he referred to it – would not have been able to build it for Rs200 billion, “as their only interest is corruption”, he said.
“They have only looted national resources and filled their pockets during the last five years while the provincial government has undertaken record development activities,” he said.
The chief minister gave certificates to engineers and cash prizes to labourers who have worked on the project. He also asked several people what they thought the fare should be.
Talking to media at the wedding of a television reporter in Township, the chief minister said that he would personally travel by bus on the MBS, as would ministers and assembly members, alongside office employees, labourers and other citizens. The MBS would be comfortable, economical and safe, he said. Many countries had modern bus systems, but the Lahore MBS project was the best with regard to its high standards, transparency and speed, he claimed.
During his inspection tour and interaction with citizens, the chief minister received wholly positive feedback, according to DGPR.
“They said that it is difficult to believe that such a big project could be completed so quickly. They said that the Metro Bus was a big achievement for Shahbaz Sharif which would always be remembered. They said that people were very happy about the welfare project. They said that Shahbaz Sharif had won the hearts of the people by completing the Metro Bus project,” said the press release.
“Calling the project a masterpiece of architecture, they said that Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif was a true Khadim-i-Punjab and the Sher Shah Suri of the modern era ... and that everyone was surprised to see the pace of work and quality of the project.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2013.