After causing much public nuisance and hardship for ordinary citizens, the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project might finally be inaugurated on August 14. After it took three years to complete, the expectation now is that the project is flawless and efficiently operational once it gets going. Hopefully, the inauguration ceremony is not a ‘pre-launch’ of the project. The much-delayed transport plan has already been a source of embarrassment for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The officials and the incumbent government cannot afford any more delays or mishaps.
Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties the residents of Peshawar faced, the BRT project will prove a blessing for locals. There is no denying the fact that the BRT stands to greatly improve transport services in the provincial capital and connect important areas across the city. It marks the first step in the development of a sustainable urban transport system in Peshawar. At the same time, it will mitigate the transport problems of the city and provide cheap transportation, as some 300,000 commuters are expected to use the service.
The environmental benefits of such a venture cannot be overstated either. Using the newer, cleaner high capacity BRT buses will also reduce local air pollutants, which cause citywide pollution. Hence the overall environment will become more liveable. Lastly, a sustainable project like this one—provided it works—also stands to provide employment opportunities as well.
There are many benefits in principle, but there are also some outstanding issues that PTI’s central leadership must take into consideration. Once the BRT project becomes operational, the government needs to look into the matter of irregularities related to the project. By all indications, independent reports and analysis, there are numerous allegations of corruption and incompetence. The government is expected to look into the excess costs, delays, violations of design, especially since transparency and accountability are the foundational principles of the present government.