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BRT Peshawar: PPP files complaint to NAB

News Analysis |

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) decided to approach the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Pervaiz Khattak over the prolonged delay in Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The PPP’s KP chapter filed a reference with the anti-corruption watchdog as it sought to become a party to the inquiry into the BRT fiasco.

The PPP argues that the BRT was an unnecessary burden on the national exchequer and its poor management and long delays were creating difficulties for the residents. PPP in the application to NAB stated that the cost of the project has reached Rs 70 billion; initially, the estimated cost was Rs39 billion and the project had to be completed within six months. PPP leaders also appealed the Supreme Court to look into the BRT records and order the arrest of those involved in the malpractices.

According to media reports, of the total 31 bus stations, 11 are still incomplete. Work on the three bus depots, at Chamkani, Hayatabad, and Dabgari is unfinished. Over 200 buses were to reach Peshawar.

In a joint statement a day ago, PPP provincial president Muhammad Humayun Khan and general secretary Faisal Karim Kundi had demanded that the NAB file a corruption reference against Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak as he was the chief minister when construction of the multi-billion BRT project had started.

BRT Project

It is important to note here that the much-awaited inquiry report on the most-debated BRT project released earlier this month which highlighted “a multitude of technical errors, faulty design, and inept planning that caused heavy losses to the exchequer”.

‘Frequent design change’ during the execution of the BRT project caused the delay.

The report also noted that what was the need to introduce such a project when money was being spent on roads and flyovers in the city?

Read more: Is the cost of Bus Rapid Transit project Peshawar Rs.29 Billion?

Moreover, the BRT project, hailed as a “world-class transport service” aimed at generating “greater economic activity and prosperity in the city” on its official website, was launched by former chief minister Pervaiz Khattak during his tenure. Construction on the project began in October 2017, but work on the fixed-rail continues to this day.

The BRT line is a 26-kilometer east-west corridor in the city, designed to move thousands of passengers per day. According to media reports, of the total 31 bus stations, 11 are still incomplete. Work on the three bus depots, at Chamkani, Hayatabad, and Dabgari is unfinished. Over 200 buses were to reach Peshawar. So far, only 21 have arrived from China.

A few days ago, KP’s Minister for Information Shaukat Ali Yousafzai appeared in Dr. Pirzada’s prime-time show Live with Moeed Pirzada, and rubbished media reports and criticism leveled against his government by the opposition.

Plazas of these are not being part of any other metro project, he added. He also informed that a special feature of BRT is 68-kilometer feeder roads that would be connected with Bara Road, Kohat Road, GT Road, and Main BRT route.

Mr. Yousafzai maintained that the overall cost of the project is 29 billion, not 49 0r 66 billion as claimed by some media reports. He further explained that the government was building new roads and building to facilitate people which are also wrongly included into BRT project by media persons. “All other projects are separate but being done by the same contractor. This difference needs to be highlighted and understood,” he said.

Yesterday, while talking to the media, after visiting BRT, Yousafzai said that 8 billion rupees are being spent to purchase buses for BRT and 10 billion rupees were being spent on the construction of commercial plazas on Dabgari, Chamkani, and Hayatabad. Plazas of these are not being part of any other metro project, he added. He also informed that a special feature of BRT is 68-kilometer feeder roads that would be connected with Bara Road, Kohat Road, GT Road, and Main BRT route.

Read more: NAB chairman orders inquiry into BRT project

There is another opinion that the project was not required since the government was already working on widening roads in the city. However, Yousafzai maintained Peshawar city had one main road, which connected one end of the city to the other end. The research report of the Asian Development Bank suggested a BRT to avoid huge traffic load on the only main road. Moreover, Yousafzai said KP government is ready to investigate the BRT matter if opposition parties show proof of malpractices or corruption.

The article had input by Farah Adeed and edited by Sana Mushtaq.