Pakistan: New Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit service suspended weeks after inauguration

Islamabad: Within one month of its inauguration by Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 13, Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been suspended because of frequent incidents of fire in the buses that are running on the 27.5km long artery of the city connecting Grand Trunk Road to Hayatabad.

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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government had to stop the service after a fire broke out in one of the buses last Wednesday. That was the fourth incident of its kind in less than 40 days of the launch of the service.

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The Trans Peshawar, the government-owned company responsible for operations of the service, initially in a statement termed the fire “mere spark, which was immediately put out,” however, afterwards the company issued another statement announcing suspension of the bus service for inspection of its fleet. The company said that all of its fleet would be thoroughly inspected.

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The company said that safety of the commuters was its foremost priority and the decision was taken in the best public interest.

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Technical performance

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The KP government minister Shaukat Yousafzai also confirmed suspension of service and announced a team of Chinese engineers is arriving to review the technical performance of all the buses. Five members of the team have already come while a similar number will be coming in a day to comprehensively examine each bus of the 450-bus fleet, said Shaukat Yousafzai.

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According to Yousafzai, for the safety of the people and the staff of the metro bus service, it was decided to hold the service temporarily. The team will present its findings to the KP government within 72 hours.

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Since the inauguration of the BRT project on August 13, around 14 buses have gone out of order. Ten buses were stopped while travelling on routes and four caught fire.

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The first incident of a bus catching fire took place only a day after its inauguration. That was followed by a similar incident on University Road.

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Last Friday a BRT bus caught fire near Gulbahar station though the passengers were evacuated safely and sent to the next station. Rescue 1,122 team said fire was extinguished immediately and passengers were evacuated.

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