RAWALPINDI: The metro bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad remained suspended for over 10th consecutive day on Sunday due to the sit-in by religious groups at Faizabad, adding to the hardship of the commuters.

According to the Metro Bus Authority (MBA), more than 100,000 people used the service between the twin cities daily. With the suspension of the metro, the traffic load has shifted to the private transport service.

However, as Islamabad Expressway and Faizabad Interchange remained closed, all other arteries, especially Peshawar Road, I. J. Principal Road and Double Road, are witnessing gridlocks.

“The metro bus service was suspended on the directives of the Rawalpindi deputy commissioner for security reasons. The operation will resume as soon as the sit-in at the Faizabad Interchange ends,” Uzair Shah, the operation manager of Metro Bus Authority, told Dawn.

He said due to the protest, there was a serious threat to the metro bus station at Faizabad.

However, the commuters said they had been facing hardship all these days and the government had turned a blind eye to their suffering.

“I used the metro bus service to reach my office in Blue Area and back every day but after the suspension of the service I have no other option but to hire a taxi who charges me Rs600 and reaches my destination after more than an hour,” said Farhia Ali, who works with a chain of private schools.

She said the government should restart the bus service to end the suffering of the citizens.

Abbas Khan, a government employee working in the Pakistan Secretariat, said he was happy after the launch of the metro bus service as it was economical for the low paid employees. But its suspension has added to the problems of the commuters.

“I cannot afford hiring a taxi every day and it is difficult to get public transport. I have to change three vehicles every day to reach my office,” he said, adding wagons should be allowed to ply on Murree Road which can save the time of the commuters.

“There is no wagon service from Marrir Chowk to Faizabad on Murree Road,” said Mohammad Zamir, a commuter.

“There is a fault in the design of the metro bus service as there is no u-turn on the elevated road either at Faizabad or 9th Avenue. Had there been a u-turn, the metro buses would be plying within Rawalpindi and Islamabad in case of the closure of the Faizabad bus station,” said Aftab Ahmed.

Twin Cities Transporters Association President Raja Riaz told Dawn that wagons were not allowed to use Murree Road to facilitate the commuters.

“In case of the suspension of the metro service, the administration should allow other means of transport to operate on the Murree Road.”

He said the traffic mess had been created by the administration after the closure of the metro bus service as all the commuters used two roads as alternatives to travel between the twin cities.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017

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