—JI’s Asif Luqman Qazi says project is product of political adventurism and self-centred policies of KP CM Pervez Khattak
—PTI leader Shaukat Yousafzai says project to be completed just before General Elections 2018
PESHAWAR: Future of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, commonly known as Peshawar Metro Bus, is in the doldrums after a leading figure of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) pointed out financial and technical anomalies in the project and demanded a detailed probe into the alleged financial irregularities. Earlier, the Awami National Party (ANP) and other opposition parties also called for a thorough investigation in this connection.
Asif Luqman Qazi, the political advisor to JI central chief, said during a press statement that, “The Peshawar BRT has ruined the image of the city because it was a product of political adventurism and self-centred policies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak.”
He said that the project was initiated with an estimated cost of Rs 49 billion by the provincial government and had now climbed to Rs 70 billion. He asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar to take notice of the issue and order a detailed inquiry into the financial irregularities in the said project.
Qazi said that CM Khattak also owned a construction firm and was well aware of the impacts of an ill-planned design for the project which had so far been revised a total of 33 times. He said that such projects needed three years for completion, therefore, it was surprising to hear that the chief minister had claimed to complete the project in eight months.
Earlier leaders of different opposition parties, including ANP’s Sardar Hussain Babak, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Zia Ullah Afridi, Qaumi Watan Party’s (QWP) Sikandar Hayat Sherpao and others have time and again pointed out financial and technical faults in the project.
However, the issue became headlines when BRT chief executive officer (CEO) and several other high-ranking officers resigned, allegedly due to frequent interference from the chief minister and others.
Former chief engineer of the project Zard Ali Khan said that work on this project was initiated without first completing its feasibility report. He predicted that the project could become a total failure due to frequent changes in its structure and designs.
He, however, pointed out that a sum of Rs one billion was shown as feasibility spending. Similarly, he added that project execution had been assigned to a firm that had already been blacklisted by the Punjab government.
An independent writer and columnist Islam Gul Afridi said that BRT project had given rise to many problems and had badly affected trade and business activities in the provincial capital. He confirmed that frequent changes in its design and policies due to the absence of feasibility and PC-1 reports.
The spokesman to CM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shaukat Yousafzai rejected all allegations and reservations raised over the BRT and claimed that it could be completed just before the General Elections 2018.
He said that a further 51 kilometres and construction of four commercial plazas were also made a part of the project. He said the whole project was being monitored and looked after by the Asian Development Bank, therefore, the chances of financial irregularities and misappropriation of funds were non-existent.