Monday June 17, 2024

BRT completion by March 23 seems unlikely

By Riaz Khan Daudzai
February 13, 2019

PESHAWAR: The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are highly unlikely to see the completion of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as its major features such as universal accessibility (escalators, lifts, ramps), footpaths and cycle track have been compromised in a bid to meet March 23 deadline for the soft inauguration of the project.

Quoting a report of the Directorate of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Planning and Development Department (P&D), an official of the project told this scribe on Tuesday that the executing agencies including the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), Transport Department and the company assigned to operate the BRT, would be unable to inaugurate the project by March 23.

He said, according to the approved PC-I, the BRT corridor has to be developed from façade-to-façade; however, apart from the substandard vandalized fence, majority of its essential features were yet to be completed.

“The incomplete features include lighting columns, road markings, traffic signage, BRT signage, drains, re-surface works on general traffic lanes and service roads,” the official said.

He said though Rs66.437 billion was being spent on the project, the basic requirements such as universal accessibility (escalators, lifts, ramps), footpaths and cycle track were compromised.

The cycle track along the corridor was supposed to be constructed, but only its discontinued chunk can be seen at Reach-I (Chamkani to Firdous Section). It has been comprised in the rest of the corridor. Only substandard and discontinued footpath is constructed in some sections of the corridor.

The official said that surprisingly neither the secretary Transport nor the additional chief secretary (ACS) P&D had taken notice of these issues.

He added that Bike Sharing Scheme was supposed to be introduced in University of Peshawar, but it was also shelved.

He said the BRT stations were not near completion. Intelligent Transport Systems, which would be the main feature to operate buses on the corridor, would be installed after the civil work on stations was completed.

Without the completion of stations, the BRT system could not be operationalized. The buses would be brought to the incomplete corridor on the inauguration day.

The basic requirements such as charging points, re-fuelling areas, workshops and control room for bus depots have not been accomplished, according to the P&D M&E report.

Parking areas for buses is yet to be completed. The 20 buses are temporarily parked at Hayatabad. These buses are not sufficient for starting bus operations even at the so-called soft inauguration.

The official said that the control centre was required to track, monitor and schedule the bus operations. However, there is neither any control room available at the moment, nor its infrastructure has been ordered yet.

Heads of the implementing agency, including Transport Department and executing agency, PDA, committed to completing the project by its timelines a number of times, but every time they had to miss the deadline.

The report, copy of which is available with The News, suggested that work on the three bus depots had not been completed yet.

It said work on Chamkani depot was started on July 4 last year and it was scheduled to be completed in six months at a cost of Rs2.1 billion, but to date only 32.5 percent of work could be carried out on it.

Similarly, work was started on Hayatabad depot on June 28, last year. The depot was supposed to be completed in six months at a cost of Rs2.147 billion, but till the end of January this year only 26 percent work could be completed on it.

However, the report shows that 60 percent work on the Dabgari Bus Depot has been completed. The contractors started working on the depot on June 28, last year and it would be completed at a cost of Rs2.3 billion.

It said that, “no work plan was available for the month of January and the contractor has been asked to formally communicate the plan by February 24.”

The report pointed out that project consultant’s supervisory performance was not up to the mark as no action in terms of recovery or imposition of penalty has been taken against the contractors for missing the previous deadline.