Metro Bus: When political will can do wonders


When it comes to the development and facilitation of a nation, the elected governments go extra miles to fulfill their commitments for progress and welfare of their people.

Whether it is infrastructure development, empowerment of people or stability of economy, every government requires sustainable policies and political will to ease out hardships of its people.

Completion of Islamabad Metro bus service is a case of same political will manifested by the coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif by inaugurating this service for people in the shortest possible time.

Started by the PML-N government during its previous tenure, the project was inordinately delayed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf government. Keeping busy in rhetoric of maligning political opponents, the PTI government was seen least interested in developing projects like Islamabad Metro only because these were started by their opponents. No matter if the citizens were in dire need of such a masses welfare project.

But it happened contrary, when premier Shehbaz Sharif during a briefing on the project on his first day in office, directed Capital Development Authority (CDA) to make the service operational within five days – thanks to his political will and desire to deliver.

“It is a blessing for those travelling to Islamabad International airport for dispensation of their duties. Moreover, it is equally beneficial for those living in the vicinity of airport,” said a commuter, Muhammad Mudassar who was unnecessarily charged by cab owners for travelling between main city and airport.

“We need more mass transit projects in the capital making cheaper travelling easier for the people between remote points like Barakahu and beyond, Rawat and Tarnol and the main city,” he said.

The work on 25.6km long metro bus track was started in 2017 by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and it had to be completed by end of 2018 with the cost of Rs 16 billion. But, after PTI’s coming into power, the project was inordinately delayed. Executed by National Highway Authority (NHA), the CDA took the operational charge of the project for procuring buses and setting up command and control and ticketing systems. Airport route was also completed on the direction of PM Sharif linking it with Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus service.

Through a bay constructed at Faiz Ahmed Faiz Station near the Higher Education Commission (HEC) building, the passengers coming from Secretariat and Saddar Rawalpindi can now also travel to NUST, Islamabad International Airport (IIA) and adjoining areas through Peshawar Mor.

“We are making all out efforts to provide affordable transport service to commuters in capital,” said CDA Spokesperson, Asif Ali Raza. “The CDA has also planned to run Blue and Green Line Metro Bus Services for regular commuters as soon as designated tracks are constructed.”

Meanwhile, Director Excise and Taxation Bilal Azam said the metro bus service has visibly reduced the traffic pressure on roads along the metro route. “Earlier, there had been a travelling and parking mess on roads and green areas adjoining to government offices especially during peak hours. But, metro improved the situation a lot.” He said a temporary Operation Command and Control Centre (OCC) was established and made operational at the metro bus depot, Peshawar Mor, where round-the-clock monitoring of ticketing and passengers movement has commenced.

“A firm, Enjoyor, has been awarded two contracts worth Rs 980 million and Rs 2.98 billion for installation of smart ticketing and OCC; and maintenance and operational services respectively,” Bilal Azam said. “The services include operation and maintenance of automated gates at platforms and other facilities like elevators, escalators, generators etc.” The commuters have expressed gratitude for starting a decent transport service on one of the major thoroughfares in the capital. However, they proposed to start shuttle service for distant commuters to make the metro a success.—APP