Metro bus project: Opposition MPs corner minister

Raise objections over cost, utility; highlight threat to environment.

Motorcyclists crossing the divider after getting to section of Kashmir Highway which has been blocked off. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS


Treasury and opposition members in the National Assembly on Wednesday had an altercation over the high cost, mandate and adverse environmental impact of the metro bus project in the twin cities.

The lower house of Parliament witnessed a heated discussion on a call-attention notice about the project moved by PPP MNAs. Legislators from the opposition, mainly the PPP and PTI, expressed concern over the huge cost being incurred on the metro bus and initiating work on the project without clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

PPP MNA Nafeesa Shah said Rs43 billion would be spent on a project which would benefit a limited number of commuters. She pointed
out that a survey on the proposed route was not carried out before launching the project.

PPP’s Khursheed Shah said it seemed the PML-N government was using the name of the project for political mileage. He also questioned the expenditure of billions of rupees for a public transport project in the presence of bigger issues such as the unavailability of potable water for large segments of the population.

The legislators also questioned the development of mega infrastructure with some quoting the motorway constructed in the 90s as an example.  They said it remained underutilised decades later and Pakistan was still paying the foreign loans the PML-N government had arranged for the project.

The legislators also raised questions about the mandate extended to the Punjab government for executing the project in the federal capital territory, violating standard procedures and bypassing the environmental protection watchdog.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab defended the project, saying it was in the public interest and not for the elite. “The opposition seems perturbed over the initiation of a project for the public’s welfare.”

At one point during the proceedings Aftab was forced to cut his speech short when heckling by opposition MNAs reached a higher pitch. The house resounded with the chorus, loha, loha (iron).

PPP legislator Shazia Marri asked about the iron to be used in constructing the infrastructure. Answering the question, Aftab said iron from Pakistani steel mills would be used. Shah promptly came up with a rejoinder, “It does not matter if it comes from Pakistan Steel Mills or Iteffaq Foundry.”

Shah said the federal government should include cities in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the process of development if it was so keen on the project by introducing the metro bus.

MQM legislators also opposed the project on the grounds that the federal government had ignored the country’s most populous city, Karachi, when initiating development projects.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2014.


Khan | 7 years ago | Reply

By the way 80% of Pakistanis use iteffaq steel anyway.

Khan | 7 years ago | Reply

Why don't Karachi use it's budget to develop infrastructure projects in there province? Please stop complaining and utilities the budget for the province instead of complaint about other province in particular Punjab.

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