Islamabad — It is common knowledge that the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project is in limbo but what do government departments have to say about it?
In February, Media Matters for Democracy’s Media for Transparency initiative sent out Right to Information (RTI) requests to find out.
Our two separate but simultaneous requests were addressed to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Urban Mobility Authority (KPUMA) and TransPeshawar, an “Urban Mobility Company” set up for the operation and maintenance of the BRT and other KPUMA projects.
We asked the KPUMA and TransPeshawar about the current status of the project’s implementation. Additionally, we asked to know the revised project cost from the KPUMA and the completion timeline from TransPeshawar.
As it turned out, our choice of government representatives was not entirely apt.
The Peshawar BRT, launched by the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) provincial government in late 2017 with the ambitious target to complete it before the July 2018 general elections, is still not open to the public.
As TransPeshawar wrote back on the information request, the ongoing “civil work” on the project is “managed by the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) while the overall project is managed by Project Management Unit and Transport and Mass Transit Department”. The comment implied that the operation and maintenance — TransPeshawar’s job — could not begin until the construction work was completed.
The company did say that it had brought on board three major vendors for project operations of the 26-kilometre bus service, initially estimated to cost Rs. 57 billion. These are the bus supplier, the vehicle operating firm, and the “Intelligent Transport System” company, according to the TransPeshawar letter.
Fortunately, the second information request reached the BRT project management unit at the Transport & Mass Transit department. The response from the unit stated that “the soft opening of the Peshawar BRT project will be held on March 23rd, 2013”.
It also mentioned the revised cost of the project.
According to the unit’s data, the revised total cost is Rs. 66.437 billion. This is an increase of just over Rs. 9 billion.
Out of this, the provincial government is supposed to pay Rs. 13.116 billion and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) will pick up the remaining Rs. 53.321 billion.
Cover image: 18m bus to be used for the Peshawar BRT. Photo credit: TransPeshawar