ISLAMABAD: After continuously getting grilled by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has at last finalized the layout plan for the long-awaited National Bus Terminal (NBT) in Sector I-11 construction, on Friday. Experts claimed that Islamabad is one of the few capitals of the world which lacks a national bus terminal.
It is noted that the long-distance bus travel through national bus terminals is a common alternative to trains, taxi’s, and flights.
The Islamabad NBT project was first approved in 2012 by the CDA authorities but some of its officials deliberately delayed it.
During a recent hearing of a case filed by Transport Owners and Passenger’s Welfare regarding illegal bus stands on green belts, IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said that the CDA was deliberately not establishing a proper bus terminal since this may deprive CDA officials of monthly bribes.
“I have no doubt that with the establishment of the national bus terminal in the ICT, many CDA employees may be deprived of their monthlies and illegal gratification,” Justice Siddiqui said, adding that CDA officials are the only hurdle in the way of the terminal’s construction.
However, CDA Director Traffic Engineering and Transportation Planning, Azam Lodhi told Pakistan Today that the authority had altered and modified the layout plan which was earlier made with additions and improvements to make sure of ‘convenient’ traffic circulation.
“The approved design would be forwarded to the CDA Works Department on the next working day. And they will prepare its estimate and project concept (PC-I) so that further work can start before January 25,” he said.
Moreover, the civic agency also held a meeting with Transporters Welfare Association (TWA) on Friday and shared the proposed design. “Members of TWA also gave their proposals which would also be incorporated in the new design,” he said.
According to CDA’s design, three main halls to accommodate 34 buses and 26 coaches/coasters at a time, while 60 to 70 coaches and more than 100 buses could be parked inside the terminal at a time.
Moreover, a separate car parking, taxi stand, bus stops for buses on different routes are also part of design while separate entry and exit points are to be developed to avoid traffic congestion. Modern facilities would be provided inside terminals including a service station for washing buses, a tuck shop, restrooms for drivers and a petrol pump inside the national bus terminal.
Earlier in October, last year, CDA’s Legal Advisor Kashif Ali Malik had submitted a report before Islamabad High Court Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui that the layout plan (LOP) for construction of National Bus Terminal in Sector I-11/4 would be finalised in the first week of November and its summary would be presented to the CDA Board for approval at its next meeting.
The said layout plan was presented before the CDA Board on December 8, 2017, which approved the LOP but raised objections on the site for the national bus terminal and directed the concerned directorate of the authorities to look for alternative sites, spelling the reason that the site was not easily accessible.
The proposed bus terminal was planned and designed for 32 acres of land. According to the master plan, I-8 was reserved for a bus terminal in the city and was to be a centre for other forms of transport including a railway station.
However, in a controversial decision in 1990, the civic agency and the federal government altered the master plan made by the Greek firm Doxiadis Associates and made I-8 a commercial sector. Several inter-city bus terminals have since been established along I.J. Principal Road, near Faizabad on private land and in Karachi Company. These bus terminals contribute to traffic congestion on nearby roads. Some of the bus terminals are operating on green belts in violation of CDA rules.
Islamabad may follow sister city, Beijing, China:
City developers should learn from the internal bus system of China.
Islamabad is called a sister city of Beijing and tries to follow in its footsteps but the former is far behind in following Beijing’s long-distance bus terminals.
Beijing has 20 long-distance bus stations, operating coaches to nearby cities like Tianjin, Zhangjiakou and Chengde, and interprovincial destinations like Xian, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Harbin.
In a city of 25 million people, 10 million people are using the underground subway in Shanghai, which is cheaper, less crowded, reduces traffic and saves the time of citizens.
However, the traffic system of Islamabad is in pathetic condition and needs to follow the developed cities’ bus systems to reduce traffic, discourage private conveyance and encourage citizens to use the internal bus system.
After building NBT, the planning wing of CDA should focus on the internal bus travelling system to provide cheap conveyance to the travellers of twin-cities.