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December 2, 2019

PHC orders FIA to conduct inquiry into 35 BRT points

National

December 2, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct a detailed inquiry about 35 different points in the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project and submit report within 45 days.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth was hearing writ petitions filed by different petitioners against the BRT.

The bench directed the FIA authorities to take action against the delinquents if found guilty in the inquiry. The petitioners told the court that the project was initiated without any vision and plan.

They questioned if there was any need to obtain huge loans for the project. They also questioned as to why the project was pushed for approval without proper feasibility.

The court in the judgement observed that such a huge amount spent on the BRT could have been used to complete projects in a number of sectors that would have changed the economic landscape of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It added that visionless PTI government has concentrated loaned money in one city and this project may not bring radical change in the lives of people.

The court was told during the hearing of the case that senior officers of provincial government like Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner Peshawar were being paid a hefty allowance even though they had no managerial role in the BRT.

The court was told that the total cost of 27.37 kilometres road project was estimated at Rs66.437 billion which meant Rs2.427 billion per kilometre. The petitioners termed the cost exorbitantly high. They argued that the project was grossly mishandled and mismanaged from inception by the provincial government officials and thus far three project directors have been changed.

During the hearing, the counsels for the petitioners argued that consultants have developed a false and deceptive financial model to hoodwink the decision-makers.

The role and nexus between former chief minister Pervez Khattak (now Defence Minister), two former Director General, Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) Saleem and Israrul Haq, senior bureaucrats Azam Khan and Shahab Ali Shah and that of Shah Mohammad was also questioned in the case.

The court in the judgement observed that weekly meetings were convened in the Chief Minister's House but still the project was not well-coordinated and thus resulted in loss to the public exchequer.

The judgement posed a question as to why Trans Peshawar chief executive officer Altaf Akbar Durrani was made to resign and why the PDA was not protecting the parked buses imported from abroad.

It also questioned as to who took the decision to buy 220 buses when only 65 buses were being used in Punjab for a longer bus route. The judgement also asked as to why the project could not be completed in the anticipated one year period.

The court observed that one of the major flaws of the project was construction of at-grade corridor on the University Road as it would increase traffic congestion instead of providing ease to the commuters. The court directed the FIA to inquire about all the points in the BRT project and submit the report to the office of the PHC registrar within 45 days.

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