RAWALPINDI: The Metro Bus Service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad has so far suffered a loss of about Rs38.5 million as it remains suspended for the last 11 days due to the sit-in of the JUI-F on Kashmir Highway and H-9 ground.

A day before the Azadi March entered Islamabad on Oct 31, the administrations of the twin cities recommended closing down the bus service due to security reasons. Besides, the bus depot adjacent to the H-9 ground was sealed and the buses were parked on the elevated road in Rawalpindi Saddar.

“We will start the bus service on the advice of the local administration as the bus depot has been in custody of the Islamabad administration for the last 12 days and is sealed. The fuel station and workshop for the buses are also located in the bus depot and without fuel and maintenance the buses cannot be operated,” Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMTA) Rawalpindi-Islamabad Manager Operation Shamila Mohsin told Dawn.

She said the buses could not be operated in Rawalpindi also as the local administration had not given clearance for it.

We are facing Rs3.5m loss daily and the amount will go up if JUI sit-in continues, says official

“Daily Rs3.5 million are lost due to the closure of the bus service and it will further increase in coming days if the sit-in continued,” she said.

She said 100,000 passengers daily travelled between Rawalpindi and Islamabad on the metro buses.

On the other hand, the commuters suffered a lot due to the closure of the metro bus service as the Regional Transport Authority already has canceled the routes of the public transport on Murree Road from Marrir Chowk to Faizabad and commuters have to hire taxis or take a long route to reach their destinations in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Suhail Ahmed, a resident of Committee Chowk, said he had to walk to Chandni Chowk to get a wagon for Islamabad. He said the administration was taking no step to resolve the transport issues.

Mohammad Kamran, a resident of Mohanpura, said he was working with a private firm in Blue Area and used the metro bus to travel between Rawalpindi and Islamabad but after the Azadi March he had to use other public transport which was expensive.

He said the government had increased fares of public transport such as wagons and still metro was affordable service.

Abdul Rasheed, of Arya Mohallah, said he also used the metro bus after its suspension for over a week transport budget had increased manifold as he had to hire taxis.

He said private vehicle owners also cashed in on the situation and provided pick and drop service to the commuters. He said the government should start the metro bus service or arrange other public transport.

When contacted, Muttahida Transport Federation Chairman Raja Riaz said the Regional Transport Authority had canceled the route on Murree Road after starting the metro bus service between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. He said wagons are still not allowed to pick passengers between Liaquat Bagh and Chandni Chowk.

He said people were suffering but nobody was listening to their problems. The traffic police do not allow us to use Murree Road in the absence of the metro bus service to facilitate the people.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019