Despite the lapse of over two years and spending around Rs 50 billion, the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus project is yet to have a ‘command and control centre’, Pakistan Today has learnt.
A state-of-the-art command and control centre had to be included in the project to control the whole operation of the Metro bus system; however this system has yet to be established.
According to sources, a temporary monitoring system has been put in place on the premises of the bus station at Kashmir Highway in the absence of an effective command and control system instead.
Construction work on the much-talked-about project of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro bus started on February 28, 2014 at an approximate cost of Rs 44.31 billion, including the Rs 5 billion Peshawar Morr interchange, which was supposed to be completed within a year.
Nevertheless, the project got delayed mainly because of a lack of planning, which not only escalated the cost of the project but also drew strong public criticism since the routine business virtually came to a standstill.
In order to avoid criticism and to woo the voter in the local bodies’ elections, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the yet incomplete project in great pomp and show on June 4, 2015.
Sources said the government is taking credit for completion of the project in record time, but the ground realities are otherwise as a lot of work has yet to be done.
They said that the temporary monitoring system did not have an effective mechanism to save the data due to which several complaints remained unaddressed. They were of the view that the Peshawar Mor interchange should have been completed long ago but work on the project was still going on, raising its cost.
Although the Metro bus service has been launched, the issues pertaining to drainage of rainwater still remain unfinished, resulting in inundation of the underground bus stations during monsoon rains.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Zahoor Shah, an official of the Punjab Metro Bus Authority (PMBA), confirmed the report that a temporary monitoring system had been set up in Metro bus station at Kashmir Highway where everything was being closely monitored. He said that the data could not be saved in it for which a separate system was set up at an unclosed location.
The official said that the metro bus would have the state-of-the-art command and control centre in Saddar, Rawalpindi within the next 10 days as a team of foreign engineers was coming to Pakistan to make the system operational by installing the equipment that the local engineers could not put together.
Metro Project In-charge Hanif Abbasi, who is taking all the credit for the much-hyped project, could not be reached for comments on the issue despite repeated attempts.
When contacted Metro Bus Service Project and Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) spokesperson Hafiz Irfan did not respond to repeated calls, nor did he reply to any text messages.
The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro bus is a 22.5 km (14.0 mi) BRT system that serves the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The route has 24 stations and it has the capacity to carry 150,000 people daily.
The system uses e-ticketing and Intelligent Transportation System wand. The system is managed by the Punjab Metro Bus Authority (PMBA) with the IT part being carried out in coordination with the Punjab IT Board.