Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the long-awaited Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project yesterday.
Addressing participants of the ceremony, the premier said that this was “the best metro bus project in the country”.
Khan said that this will have an impact in Peshawar, as the city has one main artery that stretches from GT Road to Hayatabad, which becomes congested when under pressure, resulting in people being stuck in traffic for hours, causing pollution and petrol wastage.
He maintained that the main artery is 27km long while the feeder routes are 60km.
“This means that all of city will be connected,” the prime minister said, adding that it is a modern transport system covering Peshawar in its entirety.
Khan admitted to having “reservations” about the project.
“I want to say I had reservations about the project. Today, I want to pay tribute to Pervez Khattak because he always said that you will realise the importance of this project once it is completed.
“So all I want to say is that (Defence Minister) Pervez Khattak was right, and we turned out to be wrong.”
The premier also said that the ticket prices for the Peshawar BRT were “just right”.
“Our programmes should give priority to improving the lives of the common man. Everyone can afford the ticket which ranges from Rs10 to Rs50.”
There are also tickets for students to make travelling easier for them and hospitals have been connected so people will no longer face difficulties in this regard, he said.
He added that the project will eventually increase the per capita income in Peshawar and bring prosperity. “When you have a good transport system, it brings change.”
The project, built at a cost of Rs70bn, is a 27.5km corridor track, with 31 stations and seven feeder routes stretching 62km, with 146 stops to facilitate thousands of passengers every day, according to Radio Pakistan.
Shortly after the inauguration ceremony, the premier, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and other government officials, was given a briefing on the functioning of the project.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Khan had said that the initial deadline set by Khattak, who is also the former chief minister, was a mistake.
However, he had launched the project to benefit the people of the provincial capital, he had said.
He had added that the government would gradually meet all those things which the project lacked.
Earlier, Prime Minister Khan also launched the Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme in Khyber district to prevent stunted growth in children.
Footage aired on TV showed the premier planting a sapling and giving polio drops to a young child, before being given a briefing by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar.
According to Radio Pakistan, Rs8.52bn have been allocated for the programme, under which deserving families will be provided nutritious food and a quarterly stipend.
In the first phase, 33 centres will be established in nine districts of the country, all of which will be established by the end of the month, the report said.
Work on the bus project was launched in October 2017 by the then-chief minister Khattak, and a deadline of six months for its completion at a cost of Rs49bn.
However, frequent design changes and retrofitting caused the project to miss the first deadline, and increased its cost by Rs17bn, to a staggering Rs66.43bn.
Thereafter, the project managers changed the launch dates multiple times.
The project was still not launched due to various issues.
Meanwhile, a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) probe ordered by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) into alleged corruption in the BRT project was stopped in September 2018 by a Supreme Court bench headed by former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.
In December 2019, the High Court ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the alleged corruption.
A five-member FIA team formed in line with the court’s judgment submitted its report to the court at the end of January.
However, the Supreme Court stopped the probe in February.
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