Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif performed on Sunday the ground breaking ceremony of Rs 44.21 billion Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service (MBS) project here, aimed at providing a fast and quality transport service for commuters. Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, federal ministers, members of national and provincial assemblies and senior government officials attended the ceremony. The Prime Minister unveiled a plaque for the project that would be completed in 10 months. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, addressing the large gathering, vowed to bring about a positive change in the lives of common men.
“People will soon see this change,” he said and mentioned a number of similar other development projects. These included the motorway up to Karachi, Islamabad-Muzaffarabad train service and the new Islamabad international airport, which would be completed next year.
He said the government was also working on a plan to end power loadshedding and would add 22,000 MW electricity in next four years.
The Prime Minister said the talks with Taliban were going ahead at a satisfactory pace and hoped that a meeting would be held between the two sides in a day or two. There will be peace and the country would get rid of extremism and terrorism, he added.
He said terrorism, corruption, unemployment, indiscipline and poverty had now become an order of the day. He regretted that the country wasted a great deal of time and nothing much was achieved in any area.
He said Pakistan did see short stints of development when his government twice came into power in the ‘90s. The nuclear programme and the motorway were some examples of his previous government.
Thereafter the governments of the day, he added, did little to serve the masses. It was owing to the wrong policies of the past that the country was facing the scourge of terrorism.
He said the country’s economic indicators were positive and he had directed the Finance Minister to ensure that the rate of US dollar against the rupee remains stable, a little below Rs 100.
The Prime Minister said the Metro Bus project was a reflection of his government’s commitment towards providing the best possible services for the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“Despite the fact that the number of PML-N seats in the twin cities have halved, we have doubled our services for the people,” he added.
He said though the deadline for the completion of the project was short and it was no ordinary feat, but he had firm faith in the abilities of the chief minister to accomplish this gigantic task within a short period of 10 months.
Referring to the earlier agreed upon 50-50 fund sharing formula for the project between the provincial and federal governments, he assured support of the federal government after Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif pointed out that the cost of project in Rawalpindi would be much higher, and the formula needed to be revised.
Earlier, Shahbaz Sharif said the day was conspicuous as the nation was celebrating Pakistan Day and the provision of a bus service for the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad was a great service for them.
He lauded the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who in ‘90s had the vision of a motorway and now he had this vision of metro bus service to facilitate the people.
He regretted that the dream of the Founder of Pakistan couldnot materialize, despite passage of so many years after independence,and sacrifices of millions of men women and children, who opted for Pakistan, did not yield any result.
He said the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was committed to fulfill the dream of founding fathers.
He said nepotism, lack of transparency, corruption and misappropriation of funds had become order of the day. He, however, vowed that all this would end.
He said those, who were critical of the Lahore and now the Rawalpindi metro bus service, failed to realise how the people in an emergency or on duty were helplessly stuck up in traffic.
Shahbaz Sharif said 175,000 people daily commuted on the Lahore metro service and they belonged to all segments of society.
He said those, who claimed to be well-wishers of the poor and down-trodden, were critical of the project, as they travelled in large cars, without caring for the man on foot.
He also regretted that certain political parties were also trying to gain political mileage by raising environmental issues.
He assured that adequate compensation would be paid, according to the market rate to all those whose properties fall within the project area. He said the government understood the losses that might incur to the traders, which would be compensated.
He said there would be no compromise on the quality of construction and it would meet international standards.
A documentary shown on the occasion pointed there will be no environmental impact of the project as no green area will be affected during the construction of the project and it will not violate the master plan of Islamabad.
The total cost of the project also includes a signal free interchange at Peshawar Mor Islamabad at a cost of Rs 4.7 billion that will also be completed in record period of 10 months. Federal and provincial governments will contribute 50 percent each of the total cost.
Currently an estimated 0.5 million people daily commute between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The service will cater to around 150,000 people daily.
A documentary showed the route of the Metro Bus Service that will start from Flashman Hotel Chowk on Murree Road and will end at Pak Secretariat covering a total distance of 23.2 k.m. passing through the Murree Road. From Faizabad Rawalpindi, the bus will ply on IJP Road, 9th Avenue and Jinnah Avenue, Blue Area and culminate near the Pakistan Secretariat.
The portion of Metro Bus Service in Rawalpindi from Flashmans Hotel to Faizabad having distance of 8.6 k.m. will be elevated, while in Islamabad 14.6 k.m will be on ground, starting from Faizabad to Pak Secretariat via IJP Road and 9th Avenue.
The track will also have 24 modern stations for the passengers. Of these 10 will be on Murree Road while 14 in Islamabad.
Initially, 60 buses will ply on the Metro Bus track from Rawalpindi to Islamabad carrying over 150,000 passengers. About 29 kanals land will be acquired for the project, of which about 20 kanals will be acquired on Murree Road, Rawalpindi.
The Prime Minister was informed that in future if the load of passengers increases the metro track can be used for Metro Train by laying train tracks.
The project was given a green signal by Prime Minister in January this year and following the approval of the project by provincial cabinet, the work has been initiated on the project that would provide international standard mass transit system for the citizens of twin cities