LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has given another three-week extension to authorities to finish work on the Metro Bus Service – also known as Bus Rapid Transit System – it has been learnt.

The Rs29.8 billion project was due to be inaugurated on December 25 by the chief minister after repeated delay. The inauguration was first scheduled for the last week of October, followed by November-end, December 25 and January 5.

A project director says, seeking anonymity, that the task will be accomplished in 20 days except the River Ravi Bridge section which is yet to be started.

He claims that the remaining work on other sections is at the final stage and will be finished before the fresh deadline – January-end.

According to sources, since the chief minister wanted the authorities to complete the project before general elections (likely to be announced in March) he ordered racing completion of the project.

The 30-kilometre BRT track has 31 junctions from Gajju Matta to Shahdara. The system features e-ticketing, signal-free road where 200 buses would be ply on with two-minute interval.

According to a handout issued by DGPR, the chief minister chaired a meeting on Thursday to review progress of the project. Shahbaz said that the service would start providing comfortable and affordable commuting to the people by the month-end.

Lauding contractors and departments concerned for their performance, he said this mega project was being completed in 11 months. “Commuters will be charged no fare for the first two weeks of the service.”

He said the Punjab government created history in the transport sector by launching an international level commuting service that has state of the art architecture. He said work on round the clock work is being done on the project with a missionary zeal.

The chief minister was briefed about the ongoing work and the arrival of 20 metro buses. Lawmakers Pervaiz Rashid, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Tariq Azeem, Rana Sanaullah and Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Special Assistant Zaeem Hussain Qadri and other high-up attended the meeting.