Commercial centers established under the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project are facing challenges in attracting businesses and generating profits. The situation has compelled the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to allocate substantial subsidies annually. Additionally, several significant depots are still in the construction phase, hindering potential commercial activities.
The BRT initiative includes shops within various underpasses and plans for large shopping malls in Chamkani, Hayatabad, and Dabgari depots. Unfortunately, commercial operations have not commenced in any of these three depots.
Furthermore, the commercial centers located in the BRT underpasses are experiencing a lack of activity. Shops within underpasses at Tehkal, Gulbahar, and other sites have remained vacant for the past three years. The authorities attribute this vacancy to what they deem as “flawed” policies.
Anticipating significant revenue generation, the provincial government had envisioned these centers contributing to the BRT’s financial sustainability. However, this expectation has not materialized. TransPeshawar, the operating company for the BRT, now requires substantial annual subsidies, encompassing employee salaries, service expenses, and other outlays. The company has sought a grant from the provincial government to cover the costs associated with non-operational commercial centers.
Sources reveal that, due to financial constraints, the provincial government has yet to allocate funds to TransPeshawar. Consequently, the company is contemplating measures such as employee layoffs and potential closures of feeder routes to mitigate costs. The financial intricacies surrounding the BRT project underscore the challenges in achieving operational and financial success in such mega-infrastructure endeavors.
The situation warrants a careful examination of policies and strategies to align the project’s objectives with economic viability, ensuring long-term sustainability. The provincial government is under scrutiny to address the financial shortcomings to safeguard the operational integrity of the Peshawar BRT project.