Addressing at the ceremony, Shahbaz said that on the one hand, the aristocracy has air-conditioned and bullet-proof vehicles, but on the other, the common people have ramshackle and overcrowded buses. He said that while a few people have helicopters and aeroplanes, the citizens have to travel through smoky rickshaws and vans, and wait for several hours by the roadside. He said latest vehicles of aristocracy openly ridicule the deprivation of the poor. He said division between the rich and the poor class is no less than a tragedy.
The inaugural ceremony was held at the bus depot constructed for the metro buses in Lahore. The chief minister unveiled the plaque of the project and offered Dua.
Later, Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey and other guests traveled in the metro buses. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said that labourers working in factories, their owners, patients and doctors, political leaders and the common people, Ulema and their followers as well as the ministers and the chief minister himself will also travel in the metro buses. He reiterated that the divide between the rich and the poor would be minimised as a result of inauguration of metro buses and the journey started today would continue expeditiously.
Shahbaz said: “Day-and-night work had been undertaken to complete this great project, due to which the common man would not have to waste his time while waiting by the roadside. Traffic congestion would also be curtailed as one bus has the capacity to carry 150 passengers.”
“The investment of Rs 30 billion made on the great metro bus project would be returned to the nation, Insha Allah, within four and a half years, due to saving of time and fuel, while productivity targets would also be achieved,” the CM added.
He said that the vision of the welfare of common man is behind this splendid metro bus system. He said one of the critics who say this project cost Rs 70 billion or even Rs 90 billion, is currently visiting Lahore as a ‘guest’. In all probability, he alluded to President Asif Zardari who is staying at the newly built Bilawal House is Lahore.
Shahbaz said that had metro bus project been made by him (the one he referred to) or his cronies, it would have cost Rs 200 billion besides it would never have been completed. The CM wished that a similar metro bus project be launched in Karachi which is the economic gateway of Pakistan with a population of over 20 million, but lacks reliable, affordable, comfortable and modern transport.
He said he has taken the vision of great metro bus project from his Quaid, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who is the architect of the Motorway project. He said the metro bus system, which has been inaugurated in Lahore, would, Insha Allah, spread throughout the country.
Shahbaz thanked citizens, traders, shopkeepers and persons belonging to all walks of life who faced difficulties during the construction phase, and those whose business were affected, but who did not protest during the construction of the project because they had trust that the project would definitely be completed by the PML-N government.
The CM said the metro bus project is a unique and invaluable people-friendly project on which over 25,000 labourers worked day and night with the help of engineers, contractors, concerned institutions and government departments to complete the great project in a record time (under a year).
He said development work on this great project continued even in severe weather conditions, while no holiday was taken by the workers and others even during Eid and Shabarat.
The chief minister thanked the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Mayor Istanbul Kadir Topbas for their great cooperation and assistance for the project. He said Ulasim Company of Turkey completed the project design within one year while it charged consultancy fee of only seven lakh dollars, which is extremely low for a project worth Rs 30 billion. He said that the Turkish company has not received its fee from us, while had it been any other country it would have received the money first and then given the design. He said this is a story of love, affection, sacrifice and brotherhood.
He said the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey helped flood-affected Pakistani brethren with an open heart. With the same spirit, Turkey extended cooperation for the metro bus project, and we are thankful for it. He said no one would come to invest in Pakistan where there is terrorism, corruption, bad governance and loot and plunder, while the Turk brethren have made investment in this project in cooperation with the Punjab government.
Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said the metro bus project has proved beyond doubt that even if conditions are bad, relations based on love, affection and brotherly sentiments continue to exist. He said brother Kadir Topbas has not been able to come because of his busy schedule, but sent his message of congratulation, while on behalf of the Turkish President and the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey has come to Lahore.
The CM thanked diplomats of Islamic, European, American, African and South American countries who joined the moment of happiness.
He appreciated the efficiency of the Chairman Planning and Development, the Secretary Finance, the Secretary Communication and Works, the DG LDA, the Managing Director Punjab Metro Bus Authority, the Chief Traffic Officer, Tepa, Nespak and all those who worked on the project.
He announced a special prize of Rs 3 million for distribution among the workers who worked day and night on the project. Shahbaz Sharif also gave prizes of half a million rupees each to the labourers who showed outstanding performance, while he distributed commendatory certificates among the contractors and senior officials for their splendid performance during the execution of the project.
The other notables present were: Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Liaqat Baloch, Farid Ahmad Piracha, Nawabzada Talal Bugti, Shahzain Bugti, head of Turk Company Albayrak Ahmet Albayrak, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Salman Shahbaz, Cap (r) Safdar, Ameer Muqaam and Sana Ullah Zehri.
When Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif came to the venue of ceremony, he went to foreign diplomats and leaders of political parties and shook hands with them. President Pakistan Muslim League-N Muhammad Nawaz Sharif especially participated in the ceremony which was arranged in a simple but an impressive manner.
A child Abdul Raheem presented a model of metro bus to Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. A national song “Aay Rooh-e-Quaid Aaj Ke Din Hum Tujh Se Wadah Karte Hain” was sung during the ceremony whereas a special song regarding metro bus project was also sung and an excerpt from the speech of Quaid-e-Azam was also read.