As part of groundwork for the proposed metro bus project for the twin cities, the Rawalpindi commissioner has directed officials to complete a survey of the infrastructure that would be cleared and shifted before initiating the work on the multi-billion plan.
While presiding over a meeting at his office on Monday, Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed, who is also chairman of the Coordination Committee on Metro Bus Service Project, asked representatives of various departments including Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco), Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and others to complete the survey by February 5 with estimated cost to clear the infrastructure along the proposed route.
Representatives of the Capital Development Authority, SNGPL, Iesco, the Islamabad commissioner and others attended the meeting.
Under the proposed Rs34 billion plan of the Punjab government, an elevated expressway will be constructed from Flashman’s Hotel on Mall Road to the Pakistan Secretariat via Benazir Bhutto Road (Murree Road), IJP Road, Ninth Avenue and Blue Area to run the bus service.
Saeed told The Express Tribune that a total of 10 substations would be established from Flashman’s to Faizabad. He said that all the buildings and shops on the metro bus route would be razed and the affected people would be compensated.
Officials said that the metro bus would have stops at Saddar, Marir Chowk, Liaquat Bagh, Committee Chowk, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Chandni Chowk, Rehmanabad, 6th Road, Shamasabad and Faizabad.
Oddly, no official from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had been invited to the meeting despite the fact it had expressed apprehensions about the proposed project. The CAA is concerned primarily by the risk to flights from Benazir Bhutto International Hospital due to the height of the proposed flyover at Chandi Chowk.
The commissioner, however, said that the height of the parallel flyover at Chandni Chowk would be kept low enough to avoid obstructing air traffic.
When contacted, CAA Spokesman Mubarik Shah said that so far the Rawalpindi administration has not contacted them for getting the no-objection certificate (NOC). “The project is still at an early phase. I think, they will contact us about the NOC at a later stage,” he said.
Officials at the Rawalpindi Development Authority said that the groundbreaking of the project would be performed in the last week of February and it will be completed in a year.
Plan thrust on capital
While a meeting in Rawalpindi was being held to discuss a proposed public transport service for Rawalpindi, Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials may have been left pondering over why they were there. This is because on January 19, a meeting chaired by the prime minister had already decided that the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) will solely undertake the project.
The CDA will have no say in the project, sources said.
“The CDA has just been asked to earmark 20 acres for the establishment of a bus depot in Islamabad,” said an official privy to the development.
In addition, a CDA official revealed that the Punjab government has hired National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) as the design consultant for the project, “on a single tender basis and will also be responsible for construction, supervision and management of the project”.
However, a Nespak official who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media said that the competitive process was skipped following an exemption granted by the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA).
“Nespak enjoys a good reputation after executing a similar project in Lahore. Under special circumstances, PPRA is entitled to relax rules and regulations under its ordinance before granting contracts to firms,” the official said.
The official was not sure if the federal government was also taken on board prior to hiring Nespak, as almost 15 kilometres of the 20 kilometre long bus route will pass through the capital.
Islamabad’s section of the project
The RDA has recently sought pre-qualification from contractors for the construction of the Islamabad section of the project. The estimated cost of Islamabad’s section has been worked out at Rs15 billion.
The interested firms have been asked to submit the required documents to take part in the pre-qualification process. The selected firms will be responsible for the construction of underpasses, flyovers, roadwork, drainage, bus stations, and others facilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2014.