Metro Bus project: This is the dawn of a new era, says PM Nawaz

Published: June 4, 2015
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with other political leaders inaugurates the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus service in Islamabad on Thursday, June 4, 2015. PHOTO: PID

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with other political leaders inaugurates the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus service in Islamabad on Thursday, June 4, 2015. PHOTO: PID

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with other political leaders inaugurates the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus service in Islamabad on Thursday, June 4, 2015. PHOTO: PID PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while inaugurating the new half a billion dollar Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metro Bus service on Thursday said the iconic project is a symbol of changing Pakistan.

“This is Pakistan, a changing Pakistan,” said the prime minister while addressing at the Convention Centre in Islamabad. “It is the dawn of a new era.”

He said in the past developmental projects took decades to complete and their cost escalated many times but this culture has now come to an end.

He congratulated people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and said the bus service would provide them modern and comfortable travelling facility at an affordable cost.

“They would now be able to reach their work places and educational institutions speedily and without wastage of time,” he said.

He also praised the Punjab chief minister for implementing the project in the shortest possible time and in a transparent manner.

The prime minister also announced a motorway from Khunjerab to Gwadar will be constructed, passing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Nawaz also thanked the country’s political leadership for giving ownership to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

“After national consensus, the government has earmarked Rs30 billion in the new budget for the Western route of the CPEC,” he said.

The prime minister appreciated all those who contributed to implementation of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus project and announced prizes for them.

Meanwhile, Nawaz also announced the Metro Bus project in Karachi, among a number of developmental projects.

Shahbaz also spoke and said the project should be called the “Pakistan Metro Bus” as people and communities from regions across Pakistan lived in the twin cities.

Provincial chief ministers except Qaim Ali Shah, federal ministers as well as leaders of various political parties attended the inauguration ceremony.

The government hopes the project will revolutionise transport in the capital but it has been criticised by some as extravagant.

The 23-kilometre line, where 68 air-conditioned buses will carry an estimated 135,000 passengers a day along exclusive, signal-free lanes, links the neat, leafy capital with its sprawling twin city Rawalpindi.

PHOTO: APP

The project was built in 13 months — six months longer than planned — at a cost of Rs44.84 billion and will use buses from Turkey.

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

Critics have branded the metro bus, which is opening as the economy slowly rebuilds after years of stagnation, as “wasteful”, saying priority should be given to spending on education, health and the environment.

But the government hopes it will give the economies of the twin cities a boost by making travel easier and cheaper for commuters currently reliant on a patchy network of minibuses and vans.

PHOTO: APP

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the service would be a boon for people on low-incomes.

“It will also help cool the anger of people who have to travel in shoddy vans while government officials, politicians and rich people drive past in their air-conditioned and bullet-proof vehicles,” Shahbaz told journalists earlier this week.

With gleaming grey tiles, escalators, elevators and modern glass and steel structures with wavy red roofs, the 24 stations of the new line would not look out of place in a more developed country.

PHOTO: AFP

Completion of the project will be welcomed by many if only as heralding the end of more than a year of major construction work.

Since the ground-breaking in February last year, large sections of key roads have been dug up, causing huge traffic snarl-ups — to add to the noise and dust of the building work.

PHOTO: APP

“They dug up the entire route at once without any planning to divert traffic,” said office assistant Ishtiaq Ahmed, who travels daily from Rawalpindi to Islamabad by car.

“The daily commute time has increased by one hour at least because the construction has caused congestion on all roads and I’ve had several warnings from my boss for turning up late,” Ahmed told AFP.

PHOTO: AFP

Work was scheduled to be completed by December, but was repeatedly delayed, notably by months of political protests in the capital last summer over alleged election fraud.

Civic rights activist Zafarullah Khan said the project was imposed on the people and no public hearing and environmental impact assessments were carried out before its start.

Read: Metro service: Buses ready to roll this week

“It is an artificial transplant in the chaotic development model of Islamabad. Who decided? The citizens of the capital were not consulted,” Khan told AFP.

PHOTO: APP

He said the “only benefit” would be that for Rs20 people can enjoy a ride in an air-conditioned bus in the height of summer.

Islamabad was designed in the 1960s on a grid pattern and some have slammed the metro bus as the latest act of vandalism on the original plan.

They say the new bus route spoils the grandeur of the central Jinnah Avenue, the broad boulevard which runs from Parliament House to the far end of the the capital.

It is the second metro bus scheme in Pakistan, after the one that opened under Shahbaz Sharif’s guidance in Lahore in 2013.

As in Islamabad, that met with scepticism initially but has proved popular, currently ferrying up to 12,000 passengers an hour along its 29-kilometre length.

PHOTO: AFP

Officials say a mass transit system is indispensable for any city the size of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, and the existing set-up had made commuting an agonising experiencing for people, particularly women and the elderly.

Private mini-vans, many rickety and unroadworthy, are often dangerously overloaded, with men, women, children and students stuffed in cramped spaces like livestock.

“The metrobus will be a great boon for commuters as currently they have to travel in small over-crowded vans and dilapidated mini-buses,” office worker Aurangzeb Khan told AFP.

“It’s quite a struggle everyday to catch a van and then be huddled into it like chickens.”

Women and the elderly are pushed and harassed during travel, he said, hoping the metro bus might bring a measure of dignity to the daily commute.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • AsR
    Jun 4, 2015 - 5:48PM

    Karachi needs this Metro project more than any other city. The need of hour is to bring Mustafa Kamal back. He is the only guy who could do such a project in the metropolitan city. But I am afraid it will not happen as he is not a son of feudal….Recommend

  • Sami
    Jun 4, 2015 - 5:55PM

    Metro Bus – Punjab Government is paying Rs 40 as subsidy on each Rs. 20 ticket bought by a resident of Lahore. And now Metro Bus passengers of Rawalpindi & Islamabad will get this Rs. 40 gift from Shahbaz Sharif. Why share of 34 districts of Punjab is being used to subsidise the travel expense of the Metro bus passengers in two large cities? Increase the ticket to Rs. 60 or close the Metro. Don’t cut the funds of small districts !!Recommend

  • Shakil
    Jun 4, 2015 - 5:58PM

    There is no answer why only Albayrak buses are found to be suitable for Lahore and then this expensive simple bus project? Certainly its not a well known brand across the world! Pakistan tax payers are paying for this at highest prices why selected these Turkish buses only for this?
    What was the bidding process and how only Albayrak selected for both projects?Recommend

  • Syed Amir Shah
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:01PM

    Well done Mr. Sharif. While PPP was in power, all we saw was looting, and corruption with no development. A city like Karachi has no metro bus, no underground railway system – Sindh highways are as poor and dangerous as a highway in Afghanistan, and yet Sindh government and PPP dd nothing for Sindh. I hope you bring metro bus and underground railway to Karachi as only PML-N and Nawaz Sharif is capable of helping the citizens of Sindh. Well done Mr. PM – Lahore and Islamabad metro bus is great work. And this is from a person who voted PPP all his life and PTI in 2013, but will Inshallah vote PML-N from now on.Recommend

  • insaaan
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:07PM

    I cannot believe that most of the people who are criticising the project will be the first ones to have a ride on such project. This is the height of hypocrisy.either you stop critcising it or dont take the advantage of project even after it completion.Recommend

  • Asad
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:11PM

    It seems to give the false impression that metro bus solved the problem of commuters being stuffed into substandard mini-vans. The reality is that greater than 90% routes in twin cities are not covered by metro bus. So on these routes same mini-vans and worse yet quinki rikshaws will continue stuffing people. $500 million would have been better spent repairing all the roads and building additional roads (assuming zero corruption) , banning overloading of public vehicles and enforcing standards and requiring periodic quality inspection vehicles must pass before they can be declared transport worthy.Recommend

  • raider
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:15PM

    what a wasteful peoples these are, underdeveloped country switching to metro buses but main and small roads are in dilapidated conditions, money is being wasted, can any one ask how much funds have been allocated to research work, education and health, ENT laser machine in children hospital lhr. is out of order for last six months and committees over committees are being formed to get that be repaired/purchased but all in-vain to date, this project is so costly that it may take more than 50 years to pay wasted money back, we don’t need justifications from nincompoops at the expense of basic rights of the peoples. if i could appreciate this project that must of the out come of Pakistani s skills which is zero in this case. Recommend

  • Kiran Mansoor
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:19PM

    Shame on Sindh government and Balochistan governments – the only two governments who have not delivered one public sector project. They are more interested in looting public funds and importing Lincoln Navigators for their kids using funds which belong to public projects.Recommend

  • Pakistan
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:20PM

    Some details would be worth examining. Who provided the construction material? Was any thing other than Buses imported? Who supervised construction. After Lahore Shahbaz should have had the sense not to repeat his mistake. In Lahore this Mian Bus Service has destroyed the open roads of the city. And Rawalpindi / Islamabad has suffered more. This M Shah Rangila attitude must end. The answer to above questions is important.Recommend

  • Point
    Jun 4, 2015 - 6:28PM

    Waiting for the much needed and most easy route Peshwar Metro since 2013. Lies of KP Government.
    http://www.ictcool.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wait12.jpgRecommend

  • ZAK
    Jun 4, 2015 - 7:00PM

    I would like to congratulate PML – N govt for providing gift of Metro Bus for residents of Twin Cities. Rightly it is Pakistan Metro Bus Project.

    Metro is symbol of Metro City. Those who are opposing the peoject live in fool paradise.

    People of twin cities deserve neat and clean means of communication.

    Please assist Qaim Ali Shah to Launch Metro in Mega city of Karachi or give Shahbaz Sharif
    additional charge of CM of Sindh for initiation and timely completion of Metro and BRT in Khi.

    Well done and keep it up.

    May Allah guide us on right path.Recommend

  • Muneer
    Jun 4, 2015 - 7:16PM

    The total out lay of the Budget 2014-15 was Rs.4302 billion. The money spent on Metro bus is Rs.45 billion which is 1.05% of the budget.The subsidy on the daily ticket is Rs.40 per passenger .The total population of Pakistan as estimated on july 01,2014 was 185132926. It has been estimated that about 135000 passengers will benefit daily from the metro bus.This is 0.07% of the population.How is this project justified?.Recommend

  • raider
    Jun 4, 2015 - 7:28PM

    @ZAK:
    MAY GOD show you right path as wellRecommend

  • Waseem Sarwar
    Jun 4, 2015 - 7:35PM

    @Point:
    I am praying KP government doesn’t waste any money on metro bus in KP. People aren’t against metro or other infrastructure improvements, it’s the priority of stuff which is disturbing for people of small cities. Spending huge money on one city while more than 80% public in province are suffering due to pathetic conditions of roads, lack of educational and health facilities. I live in gujrat and roads were never bad that they are currently. Recommend

  • Waqar Hassan Butt
    Jun 4, 2015 - 7:50PM

    Instead of spending this huge amount on Metro Bus, priority should have been given to basic requirement of energy. I am not against the new projects but priorities fixed by the present Govt., are not according to the needs of the peopleRecommend

  • raider
    Jun 4, 2015 - 7:58PM

    @Point:
    really spine chilling claptrap you would always spew out, kpk is Small province, a coalition govt , resources being shared by IDPs and afghan refuges, only 5 or 6 metro could be constructed from his budget, in Punjab shahbaz shraif made one metro bus in 5 years owing to imran khan factor the driving force behind, now cost is being shared both federal govt and Punjab govt, think before you leap Recommend

  • confused
    Jun 4, 2015 - 9:04PM

    half a billion dollar was the cost?Recommend

  • soban
    Jun 4, 2015 - 9:28PM

    Inshallah in coming days we see people dying due to shortage of water,electricity,unemployment rates and facilities not available on hospitals replacing of it nawaz Sharif will say give metro to people its big opportunity of government as new budget reflection.These insects give examples of development countries where metro running but never inform there all basic facilities available.In Pakistan more than forty percent peoples daily income is only two dollars have u ever thougt .We just sittikg at home under ac that nawaz sharif making metro regarding development countries.
    I ask u in just two dollars daily wedges can run your home then I accept this metro is good.Recommend

  • Anwer Niazi
    Jun 4, 2015 - 9:49PM

    Well Done Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif the Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan for Launching Metro Bus System In Rawalpindi / Islamabad for Common People & Saving them from humiliation of Public Transporters May Almighty You Live Long Recommend

  • sterry
    Jun 4, 2015 - 10:22PM

    @AsR: Mustafa Kamal was there in Karachi long enough and he did not bring an efficient public mass transit like Shahbaz Sharif. The only way for Karachi to get ahead is to have a CM like Shahbaz Sharif who works tirelessly for the province. Think about all the improvement in hardly two years of the Sharifs! Well done guys – keep it up!Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jun 4, 2015 - 10:29PM

    As a Karachiite I hope PM Nawaz Sharif will consider the same project for this city as the people have become hostage in the hands of transport mafia and one can see how they are travelling on roof of coaches plying on city roads. The incompetent sindh government is not interested to provide relief to the people of sindh and specially in Karachi. The people of largest city of Pakistan and economic hub are helpless in the hands of several mafias including transport. The PM should take initiative for the betterment and beautification of this megacity. If its not possible due to financial problems than atleast government buses (KTC or SRTC) can be introduced in the city to get rid of this transport mafia. On the other hand revival of circular railway can provide better services to the masses but all these things need will and sorry to say that sindh government lack it and have nothing in its bag for the people of the province and Karachi.Recommend

  • Anil
    Jun 4, 2015 - 10:30PM

    Looks great…But confused why Pakistan govt preferring smaller cities for developing such projects and ignoring Pakistan bigger cities like Karachi. Karachi which is only metropolitan in Pakistan really needs that project. Eg. Mumbai which is the financial capital of India have India first Mono rail and double decker flyover, India’s first express way and metro rail. Karachi should also need Pakistan first infra projects.Recommend

  • salman
    Jun 4, 2015 - 10:57PM

    New era of what? Creating projects that will forever require govt subsidies? New era of creating projects that are twice the budget of the education Budget for the whole province? New era of putting people in charge of projects who have cases pending against them? New era of bad poetry recitals by little brothers? New era for what exactly? :)Recommend

  • Atheist_Pakisani
    Jun 4, 2015 - 11:33PM

    People really need to start worrying about the environment. As ANY of you PML-N supporters seen the environmental cost of all this junk? Instead of using funds to build more roads and keep Sharif factories rolling, they could have the astronomical amount in MUCH better places. For starters, anyone even lives in Islamabad, they are OPEN sewers! Homes being instructed by CDA to build them there. What about using the funds to complete FROZEN government schools in Islamabad?.

    Wonder when will Pakistan get ride of the narrow mindness in the country. I blame generations and generation of inbreeding with cousins etc. It’s impossible for a country this massive population to be so ignorant. May allah protect us all. Recommend

  • Lolz
    Jun 5, 2015 - 12:14AM

    2 billion rupees have been spent on each one kilometer for this metro bus project. Interestingly none of the leaders who are being shown in a picture at the top of this news, would be availing this facility, lolz! Recommend

  • Zak
    Jun 5, 2015 - 12:16AM

    @ZAK:
    you are fake like your metro bus is plastickyRecommend

  • Iram
    Jun 5, 2015 - 12:44PM

    Please also invest some money time and energy to improve health and education sector. Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 11, 2015 - 12:13PM

    Their exists a class of people in Pakistan that finds this service absolutely essential.Rather than criticizing it because it wasn’t done by their popular political leader it should be seen as an asset for the country not something to be associated with a political party.where as the concern of subsidies,just think, this project is providing hundreds of job less people a permanent job.And Income comparison,other transporters charge At least rupees 35 from saddar to secretariat and metro charge rupees 20 only.where goes these 15 rupees loss.if u travel in an air condition bus they charge you at least rupees 30 to 50 for stop to stop. Criticize before starting this project was very very much reasonable and appreciable, but after completion and start of this services its only the way to miss guide the people.Recommend

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