Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday inaugurated the Metro bus service, costing nearly Rs29 billion, in Multan.
Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and other high-ranking officials accompanied the PM at the project’s inauguration ceremony, which was held in the Chungi No 9 area of the city.
Speaking at the ceremony, PM Sharif said the Multan Metro bus project had been completed in the minimum time possible and work would start soon on the remaining part of the project.
He said contrary to the suggestions of many, the government decided to set the Multan Metro bus fare at Rs20, because the same is charged in Lahore and Islamabad.
The premier iterated that the project will greatly benefit the underprivileged of Multan, saying “i don’t understand how they travelled” before.
In an indirect reference to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, the PM said governments of other provinces promised to build a naya Pakistan but their cities had no “Metro bus or efficient transport”.
“Where is naya Pakistan?… If someone wants to see naya Pakistan being built, they should come to Multan,” he told the audience, which included former PTI president Javed Hashmi.
Amid shouts of “Mian Sahab I love you”, Sharif said the face and structure of Multan was changing.
The premier earlier took a ceremonial ride on one of the buses to formally kick off the service, which will initially operate 35 buses.
Deputy Commissioner Nadir Chattha earlier told Dawn that the project had been completed at a cost of over Rs28.88bn.
It included 21 bus stations spread over an 18.5km route, which are expected to facilitate 97,000 commuters daily, he said.
The project’s technical adviser, Sabir Khan Sadozai, claimed that the project was technically faultless. He said as many as 2,600 jobs would be created over time due to the project.
He informed that the project had been divided into nine phases, and that Rs356 million had been paid to various departments for the shifting of various services on the route.
“The project’s life is 50 years, but if it is properly repaired and cared for, it can be useful for 100,” he said.