ISLAMABAD   -   The project to extend Metro Bus from Peshawar Mor to New Islamabad International Airport is facing continuous delay due to lack of interest of the incumbent government.

With the inauguration of New Islamabad International Airport at the western corner of the capital city, the housing activity has also been geared up and people living in the area are anxiously waiting for the operationalisation of metro bus service.

Furthermore, common people are also forced to pay heavy cab fares to reach the new airport to get their flight in the absence of metro bus service.

However, like many other projects, the incumbent government of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf is looking uninterested to fund the metro bus project because it was launched by the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and there is no political mileage in completing such projects.  

When contacted, Project Director Samiullah Chattha informed that over ninety per cent work is completed as bus corridor is ready for use while the finishing work on 2 out of total 7 bus stations is left behind.

On the other side, it is 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 as well, saying it is financially non-viable project.

Sources informed that the Prime Minister office is working on multiple options to operate the bus service on this route however no final decision has been taken so far.

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 Rs12.22 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.