Islamabad-A project to extend the Metro Bus from Peshawar Morr to the Islamabad International Airport (IIA) is going to miss another deadline of December 2018, which was earlier set for its completion.

 The project is facing continuous delays since August 2017, which was initially slated as its inauguration date by the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).  

Sources inside the National Highway Authority (NHA) informed that the liabilities on account of this project surged up to 1.5 billion due to which the pace of development work on ground is quite low.

 When contacted, the Project Director Metro Bus Project Samiulla Chattah informed that almost ninety percent work including the corridor and structures is completed while the finishing work on the metro stations still remains.

 He however accepted that the project would not be completed before the end of December as there are inadequate funds for the project since June 2018.

 “We need only three months to complete the project, if we have an uninterrupted flow of funds”, he maintained.    

 The 25.6 kilometre-long extension to the Islamabad Metro Bus project was approved in January 2017 to link the new Islamabad International Airport (NIIA) to the capital. The project was to be completed in August 2017 but was further extended to December 2017 and August 2018 while its last deadline was December 2018.

 The project includes the construction of a dedicated, two-lane, signal-free corridor — 9.60 – 10.40 meter wide sections on the ground and in trenches and 22.50 – 23.70 meter at stations.

 Moreover, a three-lane carriageway with shoulders on either side of the metro corridor from the Golra Morr Interchange to the Grand Trunk (GT) Road Interchange are also its part to ensure the free flow of traffic and turnings along with the construction of flyovers and underpasses on existing roads and allied works.

 On April 12, 2017, the ECNEC had approved the project at a rationalised cost of Rs16.428 billion against the proposed cost of Rs16.86 billion.

An amount of Rs.12.22 billion was spent on said project in financial year 2017-18 while remaining Rs.4.22 billion was allocated in Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) of 2018-19.

 However, the interim government and subsequently the incumbent government did not release the funds that were otherwise allocated in the budget. Resultantly, all ongoing projects including Metro Bus project missed its planned progress timeline.  

 Besides that, it is also unclear that who will operate the bus service once the structure is completed as both National Highway Authority and Capital Development Authority (CDA) are shifting the burden on each other—citing the reason that to operate a bus service is not their mandate.

 The Punjab Metro Bus Authority is running a similar bus service on the Rawalpindi-Islamabad route, but the authority refused, saying it is financially non-viable.