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February 13, 2017

KP to construct Peshawar metro by Dec 2017


February 13, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has finally decided to initiate Peshawar Metro Bus Service project in April that would be completed till December 2017 and it is likely to cost Rs40 billion despite the ongoing efforts to reduce it to a considerable level, sources told The News here on Sunday.

Spokesman of the KP government Mushtaq Ghani confirmed to The News that they have now decided to complete Peshawar Bus Service project till December 2017 but he maintained that it is too early to say that it would cost Rs40 billion as the feasibility report is yet to be completed. 

"PTI chairman Imran Khan has given the task to the provincial government to complete the metro bus service project in record timeframe at comparatively low cost. But despite consistent efforts the project is not likely to cost less than Rs40 billion," the sources said.

The sources said provincial authorities had earlier informed PTI Chairman Imran Khan that it could carry out the project at the cost of Rs14 billion but when the work on feasibility of the project started it appeared that it would cost dearly, contrary to their expectations.

They said the KP government would now go for the Peshawar Metro Bus Service project and it would not seek financial assistance from the foreign donors, adding "All the funds for the project would be provided by the KP government from its own financial resources."

According to the initial feasibility report, the Peshawar Metro Bus Service project would be just like Lahore and Rawalpindi-Islamabad metros except for one major difference that it would have no elevated section, rather whole of it will be at grade (street level) with designated fenced bus track.

The sources also pointed out that though the PTI leadership always criticised the PML-N led federal and Punjab governments for spending huge amounts of money on the roads infrastructure it has also so far spent Rs16.53 billion for construction of mega roads in first seven months of current fiscal year, more than the total annual budget allocated for this purpose. 

According to the official documents of the KP's finance ministry, a total of Rs3 billion was allocated in the current fiscal year for construction of Swat Expressway but the provincial government released Rs11 billion for this mega project, almost four times more than the allocated budget. 

"The provincial government allocated Rs14.56 billion for mega road projects in annual budget including Rs3 billion for Swat Expressway and Rs11.56 billion for other projects. But it has released funds worth Rs11 billion for the Swat Expressway and Rs5.53 billion for other projects in first seven months of the fiscal year. So the total released amount for the road projects is more than that allocated in the fiscal budget," the documents showed. 

The documents revealed that on the one hand, the provincial government utilised excessive amount of money for the road projects and on the other there are five important sectors where it used less than one percent of the total allocated money--transport 0.1 percent; information 0.8 percent; labour and manpower 0.1 percent; food 0.7 percent; and power 0.5 percent.

There are eleven departments where the provincial government has spent less than 10 percent of the allocated funds including excise and taxation 5.6 percent; mines 8.4 percent; MSD 7.3 percent; population welfare 6.9 percent; special initiatives 4.3 percent; relief 6.6 percent; social welfare 7.8 percent; tourism 5 percent; science and technology 5.2 percent; agriculture 4.5 percent; and religious affairs 2.8 percent. 

The funds so far utilised in other sectors comprised revenue 28.7 percent; CMD 18.2 percent; local governments 32.9 percent; provision of clean water 39.5 percent; environment 15.6 percent; basic education 25.1 percent; ; forest 65.9 percent; heath 19.4 percent; higher education 19.2 percent; interior 10.9 percent; housing 16.3 percent; industry 11.6 percent; law 20.6 percent; local government 27.5 percent; urban development 15.7 percent; water 45.9 percent; and finance 11.6 percent.

The spokesman of the KP government Mushtaq Ghani told The News that Peshawar would have a modern metro bus service till December this year and no foreign loan would be taken for this purpose as witnessed in the construction of such projects in Lahore and Rawalpindi-Islamabad.

"We will generate our own funds for Peshawar Metro Bus Service project that would be completed at low price as compared to that utilised in such projects in couple of cities in Punjab," he said. 

Mushtaq Ghani said they have never ever opposed upgradation of the roads infrastructure but instead maintained that the progress could not be made only through building roads, adding "Construction of roads must only be a part of the bigger process to lead the country on the path of progress and prosperity." 



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