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Peshawar BRT: Free wi-fi, faulty design and foreign funding

SAMAA | , and - Posted: Aug 13, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 month ago
Posted: Aug 13, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 month ago
PM Khan inaugurated the project today

The Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit, one of the flagship projects of the PTI government, is finally going to run from today (August 13) onwards. It has taken 36 months to complete.

Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated it on Thursday and he will ride a bus too.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decorated all the stations with green and white balloons and Pakistani flag bunting ahead of the country's Independence Day, which will be celebrated tomorrow (August 14).

Here are some features of the project:

  • Service will operate from 6am to 10pm every day.
  • The track is 27 kilometres long.
  • At least 128 buses will run on it.
  • Thirty bus stations have been made functional.
  • A trip may cost anywhere between Rs10 and Rs50, depending on where people want to travel.
  • People will have to use ZU cards for the service. The cards can be purchased from the ticket counter or machines. And they will have to be recharged.
  • Children shorter than three feet ride for free.
  • Automatic doors, escalators, and lifts have been installed at different stations.
  • There are separate waiting rooms, bathrooms, and ticket counters for women.
  • A separate track has been constructed for people with disabilities.
  • The stations and buses will have free wi-fi.
  • The project has been completed at a cost of Rs69 billion.

KP Labour and Culture Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said they are launching the latest technology for the people of Peshawar. He even invited PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to travel on the Peshawar BRT.

"This will prove to be a big blessing for the people of Peshawar," said Yousafzai while speaking on SAMAA TV's morning show Naya Din on Thursday, adding that it will especially benefit women and students.

A bumpy road: Peshawar BRT's timeline

The PTI's flagship project was launched in October 2017 with the hopes that it would be constructed within six months, which would have made it one of the fastest projects to be constructed in the country.

Here's how the events surrounding it unfolded:

Controversies

From corruption allegations to the approval of faulty designs, the BRT project has been embroiled in many controversies.

Let's take a look at some of the difficulties the project faced during its construction:

Faulty design

  1. Approval of a faulty design delayed the project as the tracks were initially too narrow for buses. The design was changed and the tracks were reconstructed at the Sunehri Mosque Station, Tehkal Road Station, and Hayatabad Station.
  2. The road near the Firdous feeder route was also demolished and rebuilt. The authorities said this was because the surface of the road was too slippery for buses so they made a concrete surface.
  3. A picture of a gas pipeline crossing the underground market in Peshawar’s Hashtnagri started circulating on social media, prompting criticism on April 14, 2019. People had to duck under the pipeline, practically doing the limbo, to cross the underpass which is part of the BRT. The government then decided to install two 90-metre pipelines along the bus station at Hashtnagri to remove the existing pipeline.
  4. The planning failures led to a 35% increase in the cost of the project. The funding was increased from Rs49 billion to Rs69 billion.

Corruption allegations

  1. An assistant resident engineer associated with the project resigned on May 18, 2018 over what he said was “huge corruption” in the project. In a letter to KP the chief secretary, the resident engineer said that “the contractor has been paid a huge amount for nothing which needs to be addressed and a huge corruption is involved”.
  2. On April 2, 2019 the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government dismissed its transport secretary over delays in the project construction.

Accidents and robberies

  1. In 2019, a woman died in Peshawar after she was hit by a bus during the BRT test run. The woman, who worked as a maid at a nearby bungalow, was hit by a bus when she was crossing the BRT corridor in Hayatabad. The grills had not been installed around the corridor at that point.
  2. On July 15, 2020 lift counterweights were stolen from a station. The police registered a case against unidentified suspects on the complaint of the project manager. According to the FIR, the goods were worth Rs300,000. They were stolen during the presence of a guard.

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peshawar BRT, peshawar transport, peshawar bus transport, peshawar BRT corruption, peshawar BRT Imran Khan, Imran Khan, peshawar
 
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