Metro bus and our priorities
PUNJAB Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the Rs29.80 billion project completed in 11 months in collaboration with Turkish company Al Buraq. It will carry up to 12,000 passengers on an hour -long 27km, two-lane, 10-metre-wide road at a speed of 60km an hour from Shahdra to Gajju Matta.
The members of opposition parties in Punjab criticised the chief minister, saying he had concealed facts from the public regarding the cost of the project which is around Rs60 to Rs70 billion. They also alleged that the steel for the project had been supplied by chief minister’s close relatives.
They also stated that the project would meet the same fate as faced by other projects such as Sasti Roti, Ashiana Housing scheme, and yellow cab scheme. The experts of town planning have apprehensions about the Metro Bus project that it will not only cripple the existing transport system but has also divided Lahore into two halves, and damaged its cultural beauty.
As such mega projects also require long-term financial planning to make them sustainable without government subsidy, its annual payback calculated at 24.60 per cent of the total cost is not likely to be achieved.
Critics mostly believe that this project has been a personal choice and invention of the chief minister. Citizens, civic forums and NGOs have not been involved. The amount spent on the project could have been used to set up universities, schools, hospitals in all districts of Punjab or on generating electricity.
Despite the criticism over the cost and modalities of the project, there is no other opinion that all major cities of Pakistan needed the mass transit system to reduce air pollution and road accidents due to recklessly-driven wagons and rickshaws that are congesting the roads in the absence of a reliable and good public transport system.
THE Lahore Metro Bus has created much fuss. It seems the provincial government probably missed the trick here. Finances should have been managed preferentially.
There are other sectors and areas of Punjab, particularly of southern Punjab, which need urgent attention and investments.
Having said that, the city of Lahore has a luxurious asset which needs to be managed properly. People should be given proper awareness, sooner rather than later. They say ‘old habits die hard’.
Rather than promote the regime by highlighting the project, efforts should be made to enlighten the public on its purposes. Free ride definitely did not help this cause.
Dubai metro serves a good example in this regard and people cannot even drink water on it what to talk of graffiti and spitting.