A year after signing a contract with an Indian company, Kabul municipality’s metrobus service is still far from being rolled out.
According to municipal officials, preliminary work, which includes technical studies and plans for bus stations, has almost been completed but the procurement process has not yet been finalized.
Also no decisions have reportedly been made on how many busses will be needed and where these will be sourced.
Kabul Municipality spokesman Abdul Jalil Sultani acknowledged that the project has faced delays but said they hope to roll out the first phase of the bus service by the end of this solar year, in March.
He said the main reasons for the delay was a lack of capacity on the part of local companies and a lack of interest by foreign companies. He did not however give details, or even the name of the Indian company that has the contract.
“The design work on the project started last (solar) year. The design process is about to be completed. The other part is procurement which has started. We are waiting for the completion of the procurement process so that we can start the practical work,” Sultani said.
He said once the procurement process is complete they will be able to move on to the next phase which will include the construction phase of bus stations and roads.
Sultani also said that no decision has been made regarding the purchase of busses or how many busses will be needed.
Although he said the municipality hopes to roll out the bus service by the end of the solar year, members of the public were skeptical and said they could see this happening in just a few months.
“The work is too slow. We have no idea where the metrobus system will be built,” said Zabihullah, a resident of Kabul.
“The project will not be completed at the slow pace that it is going right now,” said Mohammad Aziz, a resident of Kabul.
The metrobus service is expected to cover 111kms in total – once fully implemented and will cost an estimated $250 million.
The Kabul municipality unveiled the new development in June last year and said then that the first phase would be complete within a year and a half.
Kabul’s acting mayor Abdullah Habibzai said at the time the metro bus service or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is used in different countries around the world and will be rolled out in Kabul in order to help curb growing traffic problems in the congested city.
Habibzai added that the first phase of the project will cover an eight kilometer route between Deh Afghanan area and Sara-e-Shamali.
According to him, the second phase of the project will start from Baraki and will cover Kote Sangi and Deh Mazang to connect with Deh Afghanan area.
The Kabul mayor also added that once fully rolled out Dar-ul-Aman, Karte-e-Naw, and Dasht-e-Barchi in the west will also have the bus service.