KP govt says Peshawar BRT to operate for public ‘in weeks’


PESHAWAR : Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance and Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said the Bus Rapid Transit Peshawar will be opened for public “in weeks” ahead, either in August or September.

The provincial minister said this while speaking during Geo News’ current affairs programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath” on Thursday.

Reacting to a statement by information minister Shibli Faraz regarding the bus project, Jhagra said the federal minister was right when he said that the project has suffered from some problems, and that the same had been stressed by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

In a television programme, the federal information minister had admitted that there are mistakes on the part of the government in the project which could have been carried out in a better way.

The finance minister said there is no government in the world that does not make errors, adding that it is wrong when people try to politically defend everything. “The project came under pressure when the six-month deadline was given,” admitted Jhagra.

Describing the overall viability of the transportation project, the finance minister said a mass transit project is the pressing need of a city like Peshawar with over a 5 million population.

The BRT Peshawar project will cost Rs70 billion, including the exchange rates, the minister said, adding that the repayment of the debt depends upon the future value of the money but the terms and conditions of the loan are not an issue.

“The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa acted very responsibly not just during last five years as only 2% or less of its budget that amounts to Rs10 billion goes into debt servicing,” said the minister, adding the government has drawn up the debt profiling for the next 40 years.

Replying to a question, Jhagra said, “The project is almost complete as extensive pre-commissioning testing is already well underway and it’s only a matter of weeks when we will open it for the general public either in August or September.”

The mega project, which was launched in October 2017, was to be completed in April 2018. This was the first deadline for the project which was not met. Later on, the provincial government gave several other deadlines, June 30, 2018 and then to Dec 31, 2018 and March 23, 2019. None of them were met.