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No more limbo for people using Peshawar’s BRT underpass

April 15, 2019
No more limbo for people using Peshawar’s BRT underpass

Photo: Sohail Khattak/SAMAA Digital

This picture of a gas pipeline crossing the underground market built as part of the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project has been circulating on social media since Friday when it was published by Dawn.

The Peshawar BRT, the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s flagship project in the transport sector, has become the butt of a number of jokes (and memes) because of the frequent changes in its design and ever-changing completion deadlines.

Soon after a scathing report by the provincial inspection team was leaked, in which it highlighted blunders in the design and execution of the project, the picture of a gas pipeline in the middle of the underground market in Peshawar’s Hashtnagri started circulating on social media, prompting criticism. People had to duck under the pipeline, practically doing the limbo dance, to cross the underpass.

Memes of Prime Minister Imran Khan, former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak, President Dr Arif Alvi and PTI leaders including MNA Murad Saeed and KP Tourism Minister Atif Khan with the ill-planned pipeline also started circulating on Facebook and Twitter to mock the project design. Peshawar’s younger residents even started sharing selfies with the pipeline obstructing the pathway for pedestrians.

People in Peshawar have started using the pictures to taunt PTI supporters and in reaction, an image of a large gas pipeline in an underpass of the Lahore metro bus was also shared by PTI supporters.

But how has this huge gas pipeline emerged in the underground market when the pipelines were relocated from the BRT corridor last year and gas supply had to be disconnected from a portion of the city to get the job done?

The Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), whose pipeline it is, says it shifted the pipeline last year but when the design of the ramp was changed to facilitate a nearby government school, the pipeline came in the ramp’s way again.

“SNGPL had competed all pipelines and installations shiftings by December 2018 as foreseen by the PDA [Peshawar Development Authority], BRT consultant and contractors in all three reaches,” it said in a statement.

“A few design changes along the route of BRT triggered requirements of new shiftings, majority of those have also been carried out. The need for shifting of the pipeline being pointed out by the media arose due to a change in orientation of a ramp to facilitate the schoolchildren of a nearby government school.”

The SNGPL and PDA were in close coordination regarding shifting the pipeline and on site meetings were held in February and March. A final plan was devised on March 18 and forwarded to the PDA for approval. The plan has been approved and will be implemented, the spokesperson for SNGPL said.

The SNGPL sent a letter to the PDA, the executing agency of the project, a copy of which is available with SAMAA Digital, on March 19 demanding Rs1.93 million to shift the pipeline before March 30.

It said a 15% cost escalation would be paid by the PDA if the demanded amount was not released before March 30. According to the letter, the PDA also owes the SNGPL Rs953,000 for the relocation of pipelines for the project.

According to the plan, two 90 metre pipelines, one with a 12-inch diameter and another with an 8-inch diameter, are to be laid along the bus station at Hashtnagri to remove the existing pipeline.

The spokesperson said the pipelines and installations hindering the progress of the BRT have been shifted or abandoned according to the design requirements with minimum possible down time of gas supply.

“The Hashtnagri underpass will have none of these hindrances once it’s fully commissioned,” he said.

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