Lined with gold? After paving paradise, metro bus takes off

Inter-city bus service will provide affordable option to commuters, but Rs45b price tag remains controversial


Danish Hussain June 03, 2015
Inter-city bus service will provide affordable option to commuters, but Rs45b price tag remains controversial. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD:


On May 5, 2013, addressing a gathering at Aabpara Chowk as part of the general elections campaign, Nawaz Sharif had announced that if his party was voted to power, it would ‘gift’ residents of the twin cities with a state-of-the-art mass transit system like the Lahore Metro Bus Service.


Today, the prime minister will inaugurate the over Rs45 billion Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Project at the Jinnah Convention Centre. Parliamentarians, federal ministers and envoys have been invited by the chief minister of Punjab to witness the ceremony.



According to the schedule available at the time of filing, once the ceremony concludes, the premier along with selected individuals will head for Pak Secretariat where he would unveil the metro bus and take a ride along Jinnah Avenue.

The dignitaries who would accompany Sharif on the bus have been issued tickets along with the invitation cards.

Special lighting arrangements have been made along the metro corridor and spot lights have been fixed underneath trees along Jinnah Avenue. Debris and other construction material alongside the corridor have also been removed.

A tale of delays

Construction on the ’mega’ project began on February 28, 2014. The first completion date released by the Punjab government was mid-February this year. However, it was said the work was hampered due to the sit-ins by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek and later the torrential rains that descended on the twin cities.

On a recent visit, the Punjab chief minister said approximately 11 per cent [of the total cost of the project] price was escalated due to these sit-ins.

Chief engineer of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Saeed Akhtar told The Express Tribune that RDA was currently calculating the damages caused due to those protests. He said the cost remains the same but the contractors have claimed damages which is why the price has gone up.

Environmental concerns

On March 14, 2014, the Supreme Court Chief Justice took suo motu notice on an application of Senator Mushahid Hussain about adverse impacts of the project in terms of environmental degradation.

The court was assured that the ‘green character’ of Islamabad damaged due to the project will be restored and sufficient funds will be made available for the purpose.



Some 759 fully grown and decades-old trees, 3,773 small trees and several shrubs were cut down as they were falling in the alignment of the bus route. Additionally, 5,526 ground covers and small bushes were also removed.

According to the Capital Development Authority, the project posed a ‘short-term negative environmental impact’ in terms of loss of green cover, air, dust and noise pollution, and improper dumping of excavated material.

To cover this damage, a contract of Rs324 million was given to a firm owned by the brother of a federal minister for horticulture work.

However, on site, only ornamental plants have been planted and the work, according to the CDA, is faulty and not in accordance with the environment of Islamabad.

Dr Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, the former head of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, said in the past he and other environmentalists was briefed about a phase-wise plan to recover the environmental damages caused by the project.

“Development has a cost. But it should not be to an extent that it becomes unbearable,” Chaudhary said. He added that the government’s plan of environmental rehabilitation was “satisfactory” but there was a dire need to give it as much attention as was given to the construction of the project.



On the other hand, CDA Member Environment Mustafain Kazmi said the authority was focusing on plantation alongside the metro corridor. He said damages could not be recovered in days or months and will take consistent efforts.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2015. 

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COMMENTS (40)

Sohail Afzal Rana | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend I think this project is a relief for the people of twin cities as there is hardly any availability of cheap fuel is available and so is an effective public transport system.So in my opinion its a good initiative regardless of the capital invested.
Babar | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend I am Karachiite.. but I seriously need metro bus in Karachi! It took two hours to reach from NED university of Engineering and technology to Kharadar, Tower in those khatara buses... on the other hand if I took anyother route..It cost more then 100Rps one sided! And for your kind info who are saying that PMLN had not done anything except metro... Recently Shahbaz Sharif Innaugurated worldclass hospital in Punjab with the help of turkey(I don't remember the name of the city) but except ptv no one even dared to show it or have a red ticker over it! Danish schools and Punjab board... there books are renewed every 2-3 years there course is uptodate... but here in Sindh... Sindh Board books are same as my mom dad time... The matric and intermediate books are of the same thing which my parents used to study! this year Punjab education budget is raised from 100 billion to more then 200-250 billion! The way cm Punjab Tackled dengue...! the laptop scheme all are for people .(I am also beneficiary of Prime minister laptop scheme as I am student of Civil Engineering and I much needed a good laptop for using civil engineering softwares and to learn and do projects and my father is retired and I cannot even ask or burden him for a new laptop.. thanks to NS for giving this... burnol Ameero! ) after 18 amendment education comes under provincial and only higher education comes under federal... so last year HEC was given highest budget in the history... again media didn't showed .... we must appreciate.. thanks NS ... Punjab mey trqi krti hai Punjab ki govt to hamey khushi hoti hai kasam se..! k kahin to trqi hui... lekin hamare soobo ki bhi govt ko sudhar jana chahye khas kr Sindh ki ppp govt ko -_- and and Pak China Economic corridor and etc motorways etc yes federal is doing something... not like what ppp did that they did nothing except looting and corruption! federal Fees Wapsi scheme for Higher education students... It went successful but media didn't showed it again..prime minister laptop scheme laptops distributed in entire Pakistan media again no coverage...! and someone said that Pmln is privatizing... Oh acha? then what about Pakistan railways it was near the closure but it is again reaching at the heights of Himalayas ...green line train etc are example.. burnol ptians! Hatts off to NS... Karachi operation .... look in my area there was daily firing between The govt of sindh gangwar of lyari and renowned party of Karachi! there used to be daily chaos from isha till fajar... but thanks to NS he started Karachi operation and the day when he came to announce Allhamdulillah peace has been restored from that day...and dil se duae nikalti hain NS k liye us din k baad se! wrna jo ameer they woh sarey Clifton or bahdurabad bhag gye or hum jese middle class or greeb awam kahan jati....! ? Thankyou NS for this wonderful operation.. beher haal in sb mey raza to Allah ki hi thi! Allhamdulillah for everything! Electricity projects till 2017! wait and watch load shedding by the will of Allah will end soon! InshaAllah
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