Pakistani PM inaugurates BRT rapid bus service in Peshawar

Pakistan Prime Minister unveils the inaugural plaque of Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Peshawar on Aug. 13, 2020. (PID)
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Updated 14 August 2020

Pakistani PM inaugurates BRT rapid bus service in Peshawar

  • Launched in 2017, the project had to be completed in six months but missed several deadlines
  • Opposition figures say all corruption allegations surrounding the project must be probed

PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday inaugurated Peshawar’s long-awaited Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, calling it the best metro bus service available in Pakistan. 
“I had serious reservations about the project initially,” he said, “but it is one of the best models of transportation system in the country. I congratulate you all and [former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province] Pervez Khattak who used to say we would realize the significance of the project after its completion.”
Launched in October 2017 at an estimated cost of Rs. 49 billion, the 27-kilometer-long BRT corridor had to be completed within a span of six months. However, the project got delayed and missed at least four deadlines in 2018 and 2019.
Addressing the media in Peshawar on Wednesday, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan acknowledged that the earlier inauguration dates announced by his predecessor were mistakes.
However, Alamgir Bangash, who works with the government-owned TransPeshawar Company, told Arab News that the project got delayed since its design had to undergo some changes which also increased its cost to a staggering Rs. 66 billion.
Praising the project, the prime minister said that it connected the city’s main arteries and went as far away as the Torkham border that separates the Afghan and Pakistani territories.
The introduction of hybrid diesel buses, he continued, would effectively tackle the traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in Peshawar.
The TransPeshawar Company has already acquired a fleet of 200 hybrid air-conditioned buses to cover the BRT corridor, Bangash informed.
“We are still doing some infrastructure and beautification work on three stations,” he said. “But this will not hamper the service that has started today.”
The political rivals of the ruling party criticized the BRT, however, and claimed that it was not a viable project for Peshawar.
“The BRT project was flawed from the outset and it was also surrounded by corruption allegations,” said Sardar Hussain Babak, a senior leader of the Awami National Party, while talking to Arab News. “Even now we don’t know if the project has been completed or it is a premature inauguration.”
“I suggest the PTI must probe the corruption allegations related to this if it is truly striving to uproot financial irregularities from the country,” he added.


In memory of daughter, Pakistani man runs Dubai desert to raise awareness of ‘newborn screenings’

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago

In memory of daughter, Pakistani man runs Dubai desert to raise awareness of ‘newborn screenings’

  • Seven years ago, Akbar Naqvi lost his adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to an undetected metabolic disorder
  • Now he runs to raise awareness and funds for newborn screenings that test babies in their first days of life for disorders that can hinder normal development

DUBAI: A Pakistani man has run 200 kilometers through the Al-Qudra desert in Dubai last month to raise awareness about “newborn screenings,” the practice of testing babies in their first days of life for disorders that can hinder normal development.
Seven years ago, Akbar Naqvi lost his adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to an undetected metabolic disorder. Now the owner of a fintech company in Dubai runs to raise awareness, and funds, for newborn screenings so other parents and children don’t have to go through what his family did.
Last month, the 44-year-old ran 42 hours across Al-Qudra in what he described as “the ultimate test of human endurance.” He slept only two hours and only took very short breaks along the way. His run, on August 28-29, coincided with the beginning of Newborn Screening Awareness Month, internationally observed in September.

Akber Naqvi is taking a short rest during his 200-kilometer run across Al-Qudra desert in Dubai on Aug. 28, 2002. (Photo courtesy of Akber Naqvi via AN)

“I ran to raise awareness on the importance of newborn screenings,” Naqvi, who set up the ZB Foundation in Islamabad, told Arab News this week.
Newborn screening is a simple blood test taken from the heel of a child to check for autoimmune disorders.
Naqvi and his wife Danielle Wilson Naqvi realized within their daughter’s first month of life that “something was wrong with Zahra,” Naqvi said.
Doctors were initially unable to diagnose the problem but “we then got a test done and found out that Zahra suffered from a metabolic disorder called glutaric acidemia type 2, which went undiagnosed at birth due to lack of newborn screening,” Naqvi said.
“By the time we found out, it was too late.”
A month after Zahra’s passing, the Dubai-based couple received a call from Pakistan that another baby girl needed parents. They adopted her and soon Danielle also gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl.
But Zahra is continuously present in their memory, they said, inspiring them to help other children survive through the foundation set up in her name.
The ZB Foundation has an agreement with 40 hospitals across Pakistan and has to date conducted over 30,000 free screenings of newborn babies, Naqvi said. It is now coordinating with the government of Pakistan to make newborn screenings compulsory nationwide.
“In Pakistan this test is not mandatory,” Naqvi said, “so if the hospital had the capability, and which is every baby’s right, Zahra’s disorder would have been diagnosed in time.”