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Exploring the Myth of the Infamous BRT

BRT Project Overshadowing Election Campaigns in KPK this Year

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Exploring the Myth of the Infamous BRT. Election campaigns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), or more specifically in the provincial capital Peshawar, is dominantly becoming about the infamous Peshawar Buss Rapid Transit (BRT). Opposition parties in the area is using it as their main tool against the winners of the last election: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Qaumi Watan Party (QWP)’s Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao termed BRT an ill-planned project that was based on the PTI government’s bad faith, which made life miserable for the people through it construction as the government keep setting impossible targets of completion of the project.

Peshawar Mass Transit System

This project consists of two interlinked transit projects, where one is a bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor and the next is management of BRT and making sure it leads to sustainable operations. Breaking down the first into its components leads to unravelling a series of steps leading towards the construction of the project such as (a) designing and building a route for BRT that follows all international best quality standards and practices, (b) construction of sidewalks, mixed traffic lanes, on-street parking, non-motorized transport lane BRT, (c) drainage system through the corridor that is high-capacity; (d) BRT depot; (e) NMT access roads improvement along with developing feeder services, and (f) implanting intelligent traffic management system and energy-efficient streetlights.

Second, includes part of the project that deals with, (a) developing the capacity of Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit Company (PBRTC) and Peshawar Urban Mobility Authority (PUMA), (b) developing business models and operational plans of BRT, (c) negotiating with private bus operators shortlisted for BRT in order to facilitate a transition of bus industry; (d) along with figuring out a compensational mechanism for non-participating operators; (e) constructing and delivering feasible public-private partnership measures by means of transaction advisory service; (f) enhancing traffic police’s capacity to enforce traffic rules; and (g) and finally, implementation of a transit-oriented urban development strategy.

Mohsin Aziz informed regarding the framework of this project to be completed as a public-private partnership for around Rs14 billion

Part of the Peshawar Rapid Transit Corridor is yet another 26 km long road with width of 32 feet running parallel to BRT from Nasirpur to Hayatabad, running alongside the 25feet railway track. Air-conditioned rapid buses will  operate on this road. Project in-charge Mohsin Aziz informed regarding the framework of this project to be completed as a public-private partnership for around Rs14 billion. Further, informing that three local companies has already offered jointly investing in the project. However, the provincial government has decided to advertise internationally to promote competition and transparency, all while attracting maximum investments.

Design & Management Set backs in the BRT project

April 20 this year was the date KPK government has set to launch the project. However, later on it was changed to May 20 due to many functional set backs that delayed the process, CEO of Trans Peshawar Altaf Durrani was removed by the Chief Minister KPK Pervez Khattak, with the approval of his cabinet, due to the failure of being able to procure buses for the transit and its delivery within the tenure of the PTI government. As a result of the CEO’s dismissal many other team members: Chairman Board of Directors Javed Iqbal, Chief Finance Officer Safdar Awan and General Manager Operations and Market Development Mohammad Imran Khan, put forward their resignations further hindering the pace of the BRT project.

Exploring the Myth of the infamous BRT that is overshadowing election campaigns in KPK this year

There are also design issues, along with the management ones, that is delaying the process of en-routing these buses on the BRT tracks. One of these reasons that the now ex CEO of the project mentioned was the yet to be constructed depot for parking these buses, According to him any alternative would cost the project heavily, thus, he recommended that no buses should be delivered before a proper parking place is constructed first.

Budget Set Backs in The Project

Presentation of the budget for this fiscal year has become a menace for the PTI government as allocation of money to BRT project is something of a hard bone to swallow. July 2017 budget of BRT was left undecided with giving an impression that the project’s finances will be covered by Asian Development Bank (ADB). However, through the year the government realized three things about the finances ADB was providing.

Collectively, the three amounts up to Rs. 6.3 billion that went as deficit of the government assumed budget for the project This particular reason hinges the fate of the project dependent on the approval of the next government, and in the absence of that approval BRT is a lost project. into uncertainty on the grounds if the next government does not approve BRT. Thus, with these problems to look into the provincial government, is reportedly, set to pass the supplementary budget to provide cover for the financial shortcomings of the massive infrastructure project, that apparently seems to hold the fate of the party’s next win in its clutches – at least in the provincial capital.

Will BRT Become The Decisive Factor In The Election 2018

This mega project and the discussions around it does seem like it is overshadowing all election activities in the region. As much as the success of the project was uncertain to solidify a win for the party: PTI, it is equally uncertain that it will lock their fate as the losers of it. Thus, it is yet to be seen if the grand BRT project will prove to be the grand infrastructure failure of the PTI government that will cost them this upcoming next election or will the rest of their work will up hold their positions as retaining power in the province. Opposition parties has overwhelmingly focused on using it as their best campaign tool against PTI. However, elections are not too far away to see how things turn out.

Recommended Read: Election 2018: PTI Scrutinized for its Performance in KPK

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