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Transporters’ cartel against city bus service

June 28, 2013

ISLAMABAD, June 27: A Senate special committee was on Thursday informed that there is a cartel of public transporters who resist launching of a bus service in the federal capital.

Briefing the Senate committee on public transport at the parliament house, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Khwaja Jawaad Paul gave the example of the Varan bus service which was launched in the twin cities in 2004.

He said the transporters operating their wagons compelled the owner of Varan Tours, Uzma Gul, a daughter of former ISI chief Hamid Gul, to discontinue the service. Not only protests were engineered against the bus service but also FIRs of traffic accidents were registered against the owner.

“There are some groups in the federal capital who are interested in starting a bus service but they fear that the transporters will create hurdles in their way,” he said.

About initiating a mass transit system between the two cities, the commissioner said he did not think such an arrangement would be in place during the next 10 years.

He said unlike Karachi or Lahore, Islamabad with its less than two million population did not need that kind of a transport system.

Dr Moeen Masood, the Islamabad traffic police chief, suggested starting a bus service on one route as a pilot project in the city.

If it succeeds, the service can be introduced on other routes, he added.

Mumtaz Malik, a representative of the Planning Commission, informed the committee, chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, that around 525,000 residents travelled between Rawalpindi and Islamabad daily.

Because of poor quality of public transport, 85 per cent of the commuters use their own transport such as motorbikes and cars.

“If an improved public transport system is put in place, most of citizens will prefer not to bring out their private vehicles, decreasing the traffic volume and congestion on the roads,” he added.

Mr Malik said an urban bus system can be the most cost-effective in the capital city, as the existing road infrastructure would be used for it.

He said Islamabad is also an ideal city for introduction of a rapid bus transit system.

Initially, the current roads can be used for the system and once it gets positive response, dedicated corridors can also be provided for the buses.

Mustafain Kazmi, the member planning of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), informed the meeting that the civic agency had decided to start a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) and the government had allocated Rs5 billion for the project in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

“Work on the project will start in August and complete within six months. We are holding negotiations with Chinese and Turkish companies to launch the project,” he said.