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June 27, 2019

BRT set to miss NEC deadline of 30th


June 27, 2019

PESHAWAR: The flagship project of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor Project, is set to miss the June 30 deadline proposed by National Economic Council (NEC) as only 61 percent of work on the project has been completed thus far.

The BRT project, which has become an irritant for the government and source of criticism for the opposition, was started in 2017. Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the project on October 19 that year, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak pledged to complete the ambitious project in six months.

However, the PC-I of the project clearly indicated April 2021 for its completion. The chief minister stuck to their pledge of completing the project in six months even when it looked impossible to do so. Around eight deadlines were given for completing the project as a fresh one had to be announced every time. The official deadline of June 30, 2019 was conveyed through a letter in November 2018 and administrative approval of the scheme was also given after the NEC considered the summary submitted to it on November 11, 2108 by the Ministry of Planning regarding the BRT corridor project.

The NEC approved the project at the revised cost of Rs66.437 billion ($593 million) proposed to be funded through Asian Development Bank and Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) loans with the direction that soft launching of project and its completion must be ensured by March 2019 and June 2019, respectively. The NEC directives and the subsequent administrative approval imply the project is supposed to be completed in the next four days, which is all but impossible.

Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai led a test run of BRT route taking the media along with other visitors and officials on March 23 this year. He had called it a soft launch.

The financial progress on the project, as shown by the performance audit report issued on May 23, suggests that till February 2019 about 61 percent of the total expenditures of the civil works could be made. Thus 39 percent work is still incomplete in terms of the financial progress.The audit report said that the deadlines given by the provincial government and Peshawar Development Authority (PDA), which is the executing agency of the project, remained unrealistic and overambitious and negatively affected the quality of the outputs. It indicated that the official deadline would also be extended beyond June 30.

Director General PDA Engineer Muhammad Uzair told The News through a text message on Thursday, “A lot of impediments like standing electric poles, transformers, PTCL cables, SNGPL pipelines, running traffic and water supply lines are being encountered which need sufficient time to relocate to safer locations. These things are neither in the control of the PDA nor the contractors. So extension in time limit is covered in the contract agreement in wake of such ground realities.”He added, “Today is 25th June, so how the timelines of June 30 can be met.”

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