Despite electioneering promises from the prime minister, the public transport woes of twin cities’ residents may not be subsiding anytime soon.
A senior Capital Development Authority (CDA) official claimed on Friday that a proposed slash in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) under conditions placed by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) may delay the much-anticipated Bus Rapid Transit Project (BRT) for Islamabad.
“Though the integration of BRT projects for Rawalpindi and Islamabad will be a profitable venture, recent developments may hamper the project, as Punjab was supposed to provide half of the funding,” the official said, adding that the status of funding from Punjab will greatly impact the decision.
The capital’s civic agency had envisioned the BRT project during the last year of the PPP government and asked the PML-N-run Punjab government to join in the project at the time, but the latter refused. However, after the PML-N formed the government at the centre, the Punjab government leadership’s mind had changed and they came on board.
The official said the authority had already begun considering other financing options for the Islamabad-side of the project. “Either it will be executed on build operate and transfer (BOT) basis or using a soft loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB),” he said.
He informed that on Thursday, Punjab Metro Bus Authority Managing Director Sibtain Fazal Haleem visited the CDA headquarters and met with agency’s chairman Nadeem Hassan Asif and other officials.
“Integration of feasibility studies for both the cities came under discussion, besides revenue collection and distribution among the Punjab government and the CDA,” the official, who was present in the meeting, informed.
He said the Punjab government had yet to initiate a feasibility study for the project. “It seems the Punjab government will hire a private consultant to conduct the study for Rawalpindi.”
“During the meeting with Haleem, there was an impression that the Turkish firm that executed the Lahore Metro Bus project will undertake the Rawalpindi-Islamabad BRT project as well,” the official said.
Another senior CDA official said the ADB had offered the agency a multi-tranche loan to help fund the BRT project. “ADB has offered a soft loan to fund 80 per cent of the project and suggested two financial plans of five and ten years respectively,” he added.
CDA chief Asif and the CDA spokesperson had no comment on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.
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