RAWALPINDI - Denying the reports of possible delay in the launching ceremony of Metro Bus Service (MBS) project, Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Zahid Saeed on Friday announced that the groundbreaking ceremony of the project would be held tomorrow.

He said that the security of sensitive installations and General Headquarters would not be in danger in any way because of the MBS project, which would provide best travel facilities to estimated 153,000 passengers commuting between twin cities. In start, 60 buses would ply on the route, he added.

The Commissioner expressed these views while briefing media men about the project at Town Hall of Potohar Town here on Friday.

He was flanked by Potohar Town Administrator Talat Mehmood Gondal, Nespak Vice President Iftikhar and Assistant Commissioner Qurat-al-Ain.  

Zahid Saeed said that the government acquired 28 kanals land for 24 MBS stations. He said that the Rs 38 billion MBS project would be completed on cost-sharing formula; the provincial and federal governments would bear the expenses equally.

Zahid Saeed informed that cost of the project has gone up by Rs 6.75 billion due to the construction of an interchange at Peshawar Morr to avoid traffic snarl.

He said that earlier it was planned to construct an underpass at Peshawar Morr but the CDA rejected it saying it had planned construction of an interchange in 2008 which could not be materialized due to the shortage of funds.

"Federal government will pay Rs 4.94 billion while Rs 1.81 billion is metro-bus cost-sharing expenses," he said.

He informed that a new and wide bridge on Nullah Leh near Moti Mehal would also be constructed by demolishing the old one.

The Commissioner said that the tender was awarded to the lowest bidders. "Nine companies have participated in the bidding process of which three have been shortlisted including NLC, Leemac, a Turkish company and Nespak," he said.

About the green belt in Islamabad, he said neither a single pine tree would be chopped off nor the green belt be damaged. The MBS route would be diverted towards IJP Road and in future it could be extended to Pirwadhai to meet future needs, the Commissioner said.

Widening of 9th Avenue has also been proposed but one side of the road would be used at a time to ensure traffic flow. The road would be designed in such a way that in case passengers load increases in future, the road can be used for transit train service for which no redesigning will be required.

To a question, the Commissioner said that the security of Hamza Camp and GHQ would not be in danger in any mean because of the MBS project as the government has decided to launch this project after a long meeting with security officials.

"Near Hamza Camp, special screens will be installed so that no body can see inside the camp while sitting in the bus," he said.