ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited double-decker tourist bus project is yet to take off. Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Monday sent the proposal to the finance ministry for final approval to start double-decker tourist bus service in the capital.

Former CDA boss Kamran Lashari had conceived the idea. The incumbent CDA chief, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, followed up and gave the relevant departments two weeks to come up with the terms and conditions and invite interested companies to submit memorandums of understanding.

But without following the proper procedure the civic body has given the tender to a multinational company, said a senior official of CDA on the condition of anonymity. He showed his reservations in this regard and asked the CDA chairman not to give the contract in haste without following proper procedure.

The official told The Express Tribune that it was decided that the authority would float tenders for local or multinational firms. “But the tender was given in an objectionable manner to a company that was demanding a huge piece of land from CDA for establishing two bus terminals,” he said.

“Selecting of Ali Automobile Company does not make sense, as it does not fulfil the requirements mentioned in the advertisements published in national media for inviting proposals,” he added.

CDA spokesperson, Ramzan Sajid, when contacted, told The Express Tribune that the advertisement for inviting tenders was made in 2009. Responding to a query, Sajid said that the decision of the two terminals is yet to be finalised. The project has been referred to the finance ministry to ensure transparency in the process, he said. Sajid predicted that within three weeks the ministry would respond on CDA’s request.
A CDA board member told The Express Tribune that to start off they would have four to six buses. According to international standards, the buses would have wide windows so that passengers could also enjoy the cloudy and rainy weather on the hilltop.

“Double-decker buses are more commonly used for such travel in the cities and are popular in some cities of Europe and in parts of Asia,” he said. He added that the buses would be safe.

Right now people need to rely on their own cars or vans as there is no public transport for the Margalla Hills in particular. This becomes quite expensive for tourists. For example, a taxi will charge Rs300 for the half-an-hour journey to go to Pir Sohawa one-way.

People also rent cars to make the journey, but are forced to pay for the vehicle for the whole day even if they need it just for a few hours. The fare for renting cars starts at Rs2,000 on average. A tourist bus service would also ease the rush along the twisting route.

Popular destinations for picnics such as Lake View Park, Shakarparian, Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa, will be covered by this service. While the CDA official was not able to name the fare as details of the project are yet to be worked out, he did say that they would make sure it is “reasonable” so that everyone could enjoy the service.