Zahid Saeed, the project director, informed the National Assembly standing committee on planning and development on Saturday that the project would be completed in the current month. However, the Punjab Metro Authority (PMA), the command and control centre and the interchange at Peshawar Mor will be inaugurated later.
MNA Sheikh Salahuddin of the MQM told media that the government may inaugurate the whole or a portion of the metro track to get political mileage. But MNA Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, who belongs to the ruling PML-N, said it was the only project in the twin cities which had been materialised in such a short period of time.
Work on the Rs44.84 billion project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on March 23, 2014. Initially, it was claimed that the project would be completed before the end of year 2014 but due to the sit-ins by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the government extended the deadline to 12 months.
According to the documents handed over to the members of the NA committee, at the moment the population of the twin cities is 4.5 million which will increase to seven million within the next two decades.
As many as 210,000 vehicles carrying 525,000 passengers cross three corridors between the twin cities daily.
Initially, a 10-lane underpass – two lanes for metro buses and eight for the mix traffic – was proposed at Peshawar Mor but later it was decided that an interchange would be built there as traffic would increase on Kashmir Highway after the construction of the new Islamabad airport. So Rs4.94 billion were allocated for the interchange. Work on the interchange and the PMA command and control system has been completed by 40 and 45 per cent, respectively.
Zahid Saeed, who is also the commissioner Rawalpindi, said work on the metro bus project continued as per plan.
MNA Salahuddin told Dawn that the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules were violated while awarding the project.
“Mostly, projects are started after many months of preparations and consultations but this scheme was launched without taking the departments concerned onboard. Usually, projects are delayed because of unavailability of funds but in this case funds were released in advance,” he said.
“I think the government will inaugurate the project by the end of the month. Some portions of the project will be made functional and other will be completed in the next few months,” he said.
MNA Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, however, told Dawn that in the past a majority of projects could not be materialised on time.
“Metro bus is the only project on which 80 per cent work has been completed. The project was delayed because of the sit-ins and rains but still it is going on at a high pace. One can see the buses being test driven on different sections of the track. At least the will of the government is clear that it believes in development,” he said.
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily