RAWALPINDI: The Regional Transport Authority (RTA) has approved two routes for public transport from Rawalpindi-Islamabad to the Islamabad International Airport (IIA) but no transporter is willing to run vehicles on it.
The passengers and workers of the airport have been facing difficulty since the inauguration of the new airport near Fatehjang as there is no public transport from the twin cities to the new facility.
They have no choice but to hire cabs which adds an extra burden to their budget.
The RTA approved the two routes last year but despite the passage of a year it failed to attract the transporters. The length of the first route from Rawat to the IIA is 45 kilometres and the second one from Koral Chowk is 35km.
A senior official of the district administration told Dawn that work on the two routes had not been started due to lack of interest of the provincial government and unwillingness of the transporters.
Say district admin and RTA not ready to provide parking space in Pindi and airport, insist operators to keep fares low
“The previous Punjab government had managed to hire a transporter who operated 60 buses on the two routes between Rawalpindi and the IIA. However, later the transporter, who belonged to Faisalabad, stopped the service due to insecurity.”
Giving another reason, the official said the transporter wanted a piece of land for parking of vehicles in Rawalpindi but the district administration failed to arrange a space as well as fixed a reasonable fare for the air-conditioned buses.
He said after the departure of the transporter, no other investor came up to start a service. There is a dire need to run buses on the route for the facility of the people and workers at the airport.
When contacted, Rawalpindi-Islamabad Transporters Association Chairman Raja Riaz said they were not ready to run buses on the route due to three reasons.
“The government is working on a metro bus service between the federal capital and the IIA and we do not want to use the route only for a few months. The district administration and the RTA officials are not cooperating and providing space for parking of vehicles at the starting point and on the premises of the new airport,” he said.
Last but not least, he added, the transporters were asked to charge lower fares compared to other routes. This is not possible for the transporters due to rising prices of petroleum products.
When approached, RTA Secretary Khalid Yamin Satti said the RTA had approved the two routes but transporters were not willing to run buses on any of the routes.He said the government was working on making the routes operational and would come up with a policy soon. He said the RTA wanted to launch a modern bus service for the commuters.
About the absence of a parking space, the official admitted that there was no space in Rawalpindi as well as at the new airport.
“We had contacted the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) but got no response,” he added.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018