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Diplomatic Shuttle Service auctioned for Rs102 million

Diplomatic Shuttle Service auctioned for Rs102 million

ISLAMABAD: The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) on Tuesday auctioned the contract of Diplomatic Shuttle Service against Rs102.6 million per year.

The contract is extendable for further two years. The Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) conducted the auction which was won by Al-Noor, a private company.

After the expiry of the contract of the existing contractor next month, the company will take charge of the service after fulfilling all the requirements.

“Today, we got the highest ever bid of Rs102.6 million. Next month, after approval from the competent authority, this company will be handed over the site,” said DMA Director Zafar Iqbal, who supervised the auction.

The bus service was launched after 9/11 as a security measure by the then federal government. The entry of private vehicles was banned in Diplomatic Enclave, which houses embassies. The visa seekers and visitors were asked to use the shuttle service.

Through the service, the contractor charges heavy fares. The current contractor, with the approval of MCI, is charging Rs500 per passenger per trip in air-conditioned coasters and Rs1,000 per passenger for a trip in a 1,3000cc vehciles.

“Now when there is no security issue and we are holding even international cricket matches in the country, there is no justification for continuing this service. There should be a strict security check but there is no need to impose restriction on entering the enclave,” said a government official who wished not to be named.

He said Diplomatic Enclave was located on Constitution Avenue and easily approachable from various sides but people were not allowed to enter the area directly because of the shuttle service.

Last year, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior had directed the MCI to halt the service for visa seekers because it charged high fares.

The matter before the standing committee had been raised by Senator Ateeq Sheikh, who had said the service provider charged people heavily for travelling such a short distance.

The contractor, whose three-year term is going to expire next month, is still defaulting on over Rs100 million but despite this he is running the service.

According to the contract, the contractor was supposed to pay Rs23 million after every three months but he did not deposit the amount as per the agreed formula. However, the DMA director said FIRs had been lodged against the contractor and he himself had referred the case to National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2020

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