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LAHORE: The government has finally decided to construct three state-run intercity bus terminals outside the city under a plan to vacate the main bus stand in Badami Bagh and shift or distribute its entire operations/load to the new ones.

It also plans to construct an intra-city bus terminal near the Lahore Railway Station as its subsidiary -- the Lahore Transport Company is set to submit a concept paper in the upcoming meeting of a steering committee, it is learnt.

The plan to construct three intercity terminals was envisaged in 2012 after the World Bank expressed grave concern over an environmental impact on important heritage sites (Lahore Fort, Walled City, Badshahi Mosque, Minar-i-Pakistan, etc) due to the Badami Bagh Bus Terminal. Although the World Bank had pledged to fund the project under its financial support for the restoration of the walled city, it was delayed for the reasons best known to the officials concerned at that time.

“But now the project concept has matured and the government will soon start the project after getting it approved from the Planning and Development Department.

Intra-city bus terminal near city railway station

The WB will fund the entire project, as its core objective is to not only save the heritage sites from the Badami Bagh terminal’s environmental impact, but also to help reduce heavy transport operations in city areas,” an official of the transport department told Dawn on Sunday.

Requesting anonymity, the official said the department identified three sites for the construction of the bus terminals at Shahdara (GT Road), Gajjumata (Ferozepur Road) and near Thokar Niaz Baig (Multan Road) where the Jinnah Bus Terminal was already in operation.

When asked about the fate of the Jinnah Bus Terminal constructed a few years back, he said there was a plan to make it a complete terminal (bus route origin and termination point like Badami Bagh).

But, unfortunately, the government couldn’t materialize the plan and the terminal was only serving as a stopover point, forcing buses to proceed further to Yatim Khana and Badami Bagh and vice versa for dropping and picking passengers.

“So under the plan, the Jinnah Bus Terminal will be upgraded to a complete intercity routes’ origination and termination points by including a land of the police training centre. With the inclusion of this piece of land, we will have around 315 kanals in total,” the official said.

He said after the construction of these terminals, the entry of buses into city areas, including Badami Bagh, would be banned.

About the fate of one state-run and some private bus terminals near Yatim Khana (Sikandaria Colony and Babu Sabu, Kot Kamboh, etc), he said though there was a plan to finally shift all of them to new terminals, it couldn’t be implemented.

“A majority of bus terminals on these sites are being operated privately, as owners built the structures at their own land. The government can only shift its own terminal and not the private ones. In future, the private operators may be ready to shift their bus operations at the state-run terminals if they consider them viable,” the official said.

Regarding the construction of an intra-city bus terminal near the Lahore Railway Station, LTC Chief Executive Officer Haider Latif said the company had prepared a concept paper for the project. “We will place it in an upcoming meeting of the steering committee. And if it approves, we will start working on it further,” he said.

He said the project would be completed under the public-private partnership or built, operate and transfer modes, involving private investors (both local and foreign).

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2015