ISLAMABAD - Soon after realising that provision of transport to the masses is government's responsibility, the Nawaz Sharif-lead federal government has finalised Thursday a plan to run Metro Bus Service on different routes of Islamabad.

The plan will reduce the public transport by half in the federal capital. According to well-informed sources, the officials concerned have already began preparing blue print of the project. 

According to the plan, which largely has been pencilled on the pattern of metro bus service Lahore, the bus service would be available from all four directions of the city. One route will be from Rwat to Faisalabad. The second will be between G-11 Sector to Pak Secretariat. The third metro bus will run from Rawalpindi Saddar to Faizabad Interchange while the fourth bus, which will be plying from I-11 Sector, will be linked with the main route through Zero Point Interchange. Sources said that 80 buses would be brought on roads in the first phase. The number of vehicles plying in the capital will be reduced to half. "Three firms have been pre-qualified after the evaluation of the technical proposals and a consultant for the project will be finalised soon after their financial bids are opened and evaluated on Thursday," a Capital Development Authority (CDA) official said.

Since the Punjab Metro Bus Authority (PMBA) is handling the project, the bids are being opened in the PMBA office, Lahore, he explained. But the consultant chosen for the Rawalpindi-Islamabad project will face a particularly daunting task of devising a strategy. Bus service in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi will have two bosses sharing equally the responsibility of running a unified service.

"Since the top leadership of the PML-N is particularly interested in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad bus service," said the CDA official. He said, "The PMBA is extra cautious about this project." Even the names of pre-qualified firms have not been disclosed. There are reasons to be extra cautious. After all the PMBA will be launching a transport service in the public sector at a time when the PML-N government is pushing ahead with its policy to offload existing state-owned enterprises - due to their negative 'balance sheets'.

But as an official of the Planning Wing in CDA said public transport, like health and education, is an auxiliary service that the state has to provide to people. And these public services benefit the national economy and the society directly and indirectly.

According to a PMBA official, it is envisaged that a group or body, with equal representation of Punjab and the CDA on it, would be established to run the Rawalpindi-Islamabad bus service.

It is expected the Planning Commission will get that role so that any contentious issue arising between the Punjab government and CDA is resolved amicably as the federal Interior Ministry controls the latter. Indeed, sources in the Planning Commission confirmed that they are already formulating standards for the operators of the bus service.

 Peshawar reporter adds: A Turkish Company Yardimeli will finance Peshawar metro bus project aimed at overcoming traffic problems in the provincial metropolis. The Turkish delegation headed by Ilyas Kaymaz of Yardimeli organisation met with officials of transport department. Adviser to Chief Minister on Transport Yasin Khalil also attended the meeting.

Talking with the delegation, Yasin Khalil said that Turkey and Pakistan enjoyed friendly relations and expressed the hope that Turkey would also invest in various other sectors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that it would be a good opportunity for Turkey to create place for itself in the Pakistani market as compared to Europe. During the meeting the Turkish delegation and KPK transport discuss the metro bus service in Peshawar.

The delegation was told that provincial government was committed to overcoming the various traffic problems in the province. Traffic in Peshawar was increasing rapidly and there must be a service that facilitate commuters in the city.

Khalil said that a mass transit scheme would be launched from Pabbi to Hayatabad which would provide easy access to Peshawar for other districts. Yardimeli head Ilyas Kaymaz assured all-out support to the KPK government for the initiation of the metro bus project.