Something has gone terribly wrong in Peshawar. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is nowhere near completion and the Peshawar Development Authority has notified the government that the total cost for the project will now touch Rs71 billion, which is Rs22 billion more than the initial Rs49 billion earmarked for this project. Money is being sunk into this project and yet an end is not in sight. When will the provincial and federal governments recognise that they have utterly failed in replicating a project that has been running successfully in other cities of the country?

From shoddy construction materials to not following the approved plans of the project; the team that has been tasked with completing the bus line has only displayed a mixture of incompetence and ineptitude when it comes to this project. With the total cost consistently increasing and the damning Asian Development Bank (ADB) pointing to possible corruption and misappropriation of funds, it is a wonder that accountability watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has not turned its attention to this glaring instance of misconduct on part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

But then again, this is not surprising considering that NAB has not pursued cases against any members of the ruling party or those involved in projects approved by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government. There is a clear bias against opposition politicians by the accountability watchdog; the fact that an operational LNG terminal is under scrutiny where an incomplete project with billions lost is not, speaks volumes about the intentions of NAB. It does not matter what the accountability watchdog prioritises on however, the BRT project is riddled with problems – mismanagement being a prominent one – and if both the government and NAB are still adamant on their stance of across-the-board accountability, heads must start to roll at the BRT offices as well.

Imran Khan and his government have minced no words one it comes to blaming their predecessors for problems with projects and the lack of governance during their tenures. If the Prime Minister really does see himself as cut from a different cloth than those in opposition, his words must be backed by his actions. BRT is a true litmus test for this government; anyone can start filing cases against those in other political parties – can PTI really make its own leaders accountable? If an investigation regarding misappropriation and mismanagement in BRT is not opened soon, we will know that Imran Khan, the PTI government and NAB can talk a big game when it comes to accountability, but in actuality are just content with carrying out a with hint against those they disagree with. The issue of possible corruption in BRT cannot be swept under the rug. The public and the media will continue to follow this project, until action is taken by the government.