The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government significantly deviated from the original, agreed design and used inferior quality material in the Rs70 billion Peshawar metro bus project putting lives and assets at risk in the process, according to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) findings.
They were recorded by a technical team of the ADB after an on-site inspection of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in March this year, according to an official correspondence between the lender’s headquarters and the K-P government available with The Express Tribune.
The ADB has warned in clear words that BRT buses could collide at stations number 10, 12, 15 and 26 during operations because the lane width is less than the minimum requirement of 6.5 metres.
Also in March, the ADB stopped the provincial government from making future payments to contractors because of the poor quality of work. The ADB loan will not be disbursed further until the provincial government introduces changes in the design to address “critical” deficiencies.
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The inferior quality construction could damage the project’s reputation at the international level, warned the lender that had approved a $335 million (Rs53 billion) loan for the project in mid-2017.
The critical deficiencies would result in improper docking of buses at the stations and could cause injuries to passengers as well. The tiles are slippery and directional arrow tiles are missing as well.
The ADB noted that there were “significant design deviations from the agreed detailed design that impede or degrade system performance.
The provincial authorities also used “inferior material” that both harm system functionality as well as deliver an aesthetically inferior product, according to the correspondence.
The lender’s third major objection relates to the lack of adequate construction supervision and communication. The ADB seeking modifications to remove the defects might not only slow down the completion of the already much-delayed project, but also further surge its cost.
The project was initially approved to be constructed at a cost of Rs50 billion.
However, after coming into power in the Centre, the federal government allowed an increase in the cost by 38% or Rs18 billion to nearly Rs70 billion.
The ADB has identified 22 “critical” deviations from the detailed project design at the implementation stage, which not only compromised its quality but could also cause injuries to passengers.
While compromising on the safety of passengers, the provincial authorities have used slippery floor tiles. The lender has asked the authorities to replace these tiles. The safety signalling yellow tiles are also missing even though they were included in the design.
Instead of using directional tiles as was required, the provincial government has placed “taped arrows”.
“It is disappointing that the directional arrows are entirely missing from the implementation. As a remedy, it will not be acceptable to merely place taped arrows on the surface,” the ADB correspondence read.
In yet another glaring deviation, the curb interface between the vehicle and the platform does not meet the Kassel curb design mandated in the detailed design of the project.
“The lack of an effective curb means that the docking process will be slow, inefficient and potentially damaging to the vehicle tyres,” the lender observed.
The width of the lane, against the requirement of a at least 6.5 metres, is generally below the minimum threshold at many stations, which the ADB noted “causes concern over the safety and efficiency of the operations”.
“There is significant concern of corridor lane widths at turns near BS10, BS12, BS15 and BS26. Over the course of operations, the current design may well result in collisions between BRT vehicles,” according to the ADB correspondence.
The station roofs are not built as per the design and at many stations the passengers will be exposed to rain during boarding. The road marking is also defective.
Despite the ADB’s strong recommendation to install anti-cut and anti-climb fencing, the provincial government used a fencing material on the instructions of former Chief Minister Pervez Khattak that could be “broken and stolen”.
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The lender has asked the provincial authorities to change the pit design of the Chamkani depot and station number 1 to provide adequate drainage. It has also objected to the change of sub-contractors for signage work, observing that it could compromise the quality of work.
The ticketing kiosks are also of inferior quality where corrugated steel has been used. “This is not acceptable for the effort and investment made into the Peshawar system; this will generate a very negative view of the system both [on a] national [level] and internationally,” the lender warned.
The stair step height varies “considerably”, which presents a safety problem. “The mild steel flooring material utilised for the ramps and stairs is of an unacceptable quality,” the ADB noted.
At many places, pillars or stairways “do not align properly”. At certain stations, the stairs and escalators have been built in the middle of the stations, obstructing walking space. “The footpaths are blocked by the placement of the public toilets and stairways,” according to the correspondence.