The Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is facing a potential halt as five private companies operating the service have issued a stern warning to the provincial government. The companies have threatened to suspend operations due to the government’s failure to pay approximately Rs1 billion in outstanding dues.
In a letter addressed to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government, the operators conveyed their concerns and urged immediate action to resolve the payment issue. The companies, namely North-South Travels (Pvt) Limited and East-West Transport (Pvt) Limited, emphasized the gravity of the situation and set a deadline of June 3 for the government to settle the dues.
The operators highlighted the adverse impact of delayed payments on their operational expenses, including the procurement of fuel, lubricants, spare parts, electricity, and salaries for BRT Peshawar. They reminded the government of its obligation to release payment against monthly invoices within each month, as stipulated in the agreement.
The payment dispute arose when the KP government withheld funds after the lease agreement for the Peshawar BRT terminal expired in October 2022. The government cited the company’s failure to vacate the terminal as the reason for withholding payment. This impasse has further complicated the situation, leaving the government unwilling to release the dues while the company remains in possession of the terminal.
Adding to the complexities, last year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated an investigation into alleged corruption in the Peshawar BRT project. This investigation has cast a shadow of doubt over the financial dealings and management of the BRT system.
The looming possibility of the Peshawar BRT operations coming to a halt has raised concerns among the public, as the system serves as a vital transportation link for thousands of commuters. If the private companies follow through with their threat, it would not only disrupt daily travel for passengers but also leave the government grappling with the challenge of finding an alternative solution.
The KP government now finds itself in a difficult position, needing to balance its responsibility to pay outstanding dues with its efforts to resolve the lease agreement issue. The coming days will be crucial in determining the fate of the Peshawar BRT system, as stakeholders and the public eagerly await a resolution that ensures the smooth continuation of this significant public transportation service.