PESHAWAR: A civil court here on Saturday temporarily suspended recovery of certain penalties imposed by TransPeshawar (the urban mobility company) on a contractor operating the much publicised pink bus service for women in Mardan and Abbottabad.

Judge Rabia Yousaf ordered suspension of two letters issued by the company on Dec 24, 2019, and Feb 26 for 14 days and directed the defendants including TransPeshawar to maintain status quo.

The court issued the order while hearing a civil suit filed by a joint venture of Bizitech, New Khyber Car Rental Services and Frontier Organisation for Reforms and Transformation, which is operating the pink bus project, challenging the imposition of penalties by the company on account of different alleged violations of the relevant agreement.

The plaintiff has accused TransPeshawar of not fulfilling terms and conditions of the agreement. He also alleged that the buses provided to him were in dilapidated condition and no proper security was provided to the buses and at the bus stops.

Directs TransPeshawar to maintain status quo

The plaintiff has also filed an application, seeking interim relief in shape of suspension of the two impugned letters of TransPeshawar.

The court has fixed March 14 for next hearing of the case.

Advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel appeared for the plaintiff and stated that his clients had reached a settlement with TransPeshawar whereby they were assured that different component of the project would be revised including changes in the route of pink buses in the two cities as well as the review of penalties earlier imposed.

He stated that subsequent to the settlement, a former suit filed by the plaintiff was withdrawn. However, he stated that right after the case was withdrawn TransPeshawar penalised the contractors against the settlement which they had inked and signed themselves.

Saifullah Muhib referred to a recent report of a committee constituted in Nov last year for women bus service (pink bus) in Mardan and Abbottabad. He stated that it was held that no consultation was made on the design of the project with the relevant quarters and no technical expert was involved in it.

He contended that the routes and bus stops were decided without taking the local government of Mardan and Abbottabad into confidence.

He pointed out that the report further held that it was the Regional Transport Authority, which was empowered to penalise the contractors and not the TransPeshawar.

The lawyer stated that initially heavy fines to tune of Rs330,000 were imposed on pity issues.

He stated that previously, the contractors had filed suit, which was withdrawn after high officials interfered and it was decided by the committee in the said meeting that penalties would be reviewed and no penalty would be imposed on the contractors onwards.

However, he stated that after withdrawal of the previous suit again penalty of Rs205,000 was imposed on his client.

The counsel argued that penalties/ bank guarantees should not be withdrawn from the bank and the same should be set aside and suspended till the final decision of the case.

The plaintiff states that the projects of pink buses were advertised by the provincial government through TransPeshawar for Mardan and Abbottabad, more than four times, however, no interest was shown by any company to operate it. Subsequently, the present joint venture was declared as successful bidder as it was the only bidder technically qualified for Mardan and Abbottabad.

The suit states that the contractor had started the project of pink buses in good faith but the buses delivered to it from TransPeshawar in March 2019 were in dilapidated condition.

The plaintiff has pointed out several obstacles in way of running the project and also accuses the defendant TransPeshawar of different violations of the agreement.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2020