ISLAMABAD-The operation of a project to extend the Metro Bus Service from Peshawar Mor to the New Islamabad International Airport (IIA) will be handed over to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration.

It was informed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan in a meeting with journalists at his office at Islamabad on Friday.

He said the National Highways Authority (NHA) has given the deadline of 31st March to its contractors for the completion of delayed project. However, the government was yet to decide who will run the bus service.

“NHA had proposed that CDA should run the Metro Bus Service between Peshawar Mor and the new airport but the city managers had declined to take up this project,” he said. “Now, the government has decided to handover this project to ICT administration, which has already a dedicated department to deal with the affairs of transport in the city,” he further added.

He said that required funds would be allocated in next budget for the purchase of buses and hiring of staff to run the service and informed they are in touch with Punjab Metro Bus Authority to replicate its model in capital as well.

Earlier, the Punjab Metro Bus Authority, which runs the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metro Bus Service had already refused to operate the new service while the National Highways Authority (NHA), which is executing the project had said it has nothing to do with its operation.

The project is facing continuous delays since August 2017, which was initially slated as its inauguration date by the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The 25.6 kilometre-long extension to the Islamabad Metro Bus 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 Mor 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.

The project approved in January 2017 and was to be completed in August 2017 but was further extended to December 2017, August 2018, December 2018 and now the March 2020.

However, on the other side when asked about the current status of the project, a senior manager of one of the construction company working on metro bus project said that no contractor can afford inordinate delays in project as it leads to undue price escalation, deterioration of structure and earning bad name for the company.

He informed further that we have agreed to immediately start work on the project and 90 per cent work on the project has been completed but rest of the work is likely to take another three months. He informed that we have given the deadline of 31st March but it is not doable.