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February 13, 2020

BRT blunders

Editorial

 
February 13, 2020

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project implemented by the PTI government in Peshawar appears far too often in the news – and not for anything positive. It has made headlines first for its changing timelines, and then for its apparent ill-planning and miscalculations on the part of its executors and managers alike. Now the auditor general's report has reportedly highlighted serious issues with the design and quality of the BRT. The report appears to be candid and straightforward in its approach to auditing such projects. Perhaps the most disturbing point raised by the report concerns its warnings about possible bus collisions and disruption of service. Now, this is a serious matter; for the sake of alacrity we cannot sacrifice the safety of commuters.

Any new initiative in transport must fulfil all requirements of passenger protection. The buses that are going to ply on the route are all long buses; the likes of which Peshawar has not seen yet. The buses will be 12 to 18 metres long and their driving and handling requires special arrangements and training for the staff. Second, the likelihood of disruption in service will cause tremendous anguish to the people who have long been waiting for the rout to open. Once operational, the buses will surely benefit passengers and facilitate quick transportation, but if the service is disrupted every now and then just because the right precautions were not taken beforehand it will cause more consternation than contentment among people. Then the bus stations are also reported to be flood prone, as was witnessed during the last rains. Many stations were flooded and newly constructed roofs started leaking. This shows poor quality control of construction design and material.

Since thousands of commuters are likely to use this service, any negligence will cause a threat to the lives of unsuspecting passengers. Moreover, the tiles used in the stations are reported to be too slippery that may cause serious harm to commuters, especially to the elderly and women. Moreover, in the 21st century all new public constructions in the world are expected to comply with the protocols for people with special needs. And here we have a latest project without any consideration for differently-abled people. All this has not been highlighted by a hostile media or unsympathetic reviewers; these observations are given in an official report. The project that has gulped over Rs66 billion ought to have presented a better outcome. Since the project is still under construction, may we suggest that the provision of universal accessibility be made part of it; and all findings of the report be taken seriously and acted upon.