LAHORE: A large number of passengers thronged the Lahore and other railways stations on Monday due to closure of the inter-city public transport in the wake of fresh Covid restrictions.
As all bus terminals in the city (Badami Bagh, Thokar Niaz Beg and Yateem Khana, Babu Sabu) had been closed since Saturday, the people rushed to the Lahore’s railway stations including main junction, Cantt, Kot Lakhpat and Badami Bagh to proceed to their destinations.
“What to do when you have to travel and have no option, except the train. Though we generally use to travel by road, we reached here to catch a train for Rawalpindi,” Aslam, a passenger, told Dawn while standing at the main platform with his family sitting on the floor.
“On Sunday, we also went to a major bus terminal at Thokar Niaz Beg intersection. But we found it closed, forcing us to travel by train. So we are now here at the station to travel to Pindi,” he said.
Another passenger namely Akhlaq suggested the government to keep the public transport operational with Covid precautionary measures (wearing of masks, social distancing etc), as closing it completely is a loss to the economy.
Metro buses yet to be operational after new management
“Many people travel from Lahore to Gujranwala and vice versa on a daily basis for business purposes. They use to travel by road. As the inter-city transport is closed, the entire load has shifted to the railway system that cannot cater to a huge number of passengers on a daily basis. So the government should either open the transport or increase number of trains to deal with this situation,” he said.
Akhlaq said closing down the inter-city road transport and overburdening the rail system with a huge number of passengers might trigger spread of the coronavirus.
On the other hand, the closure of Lahore Metro bus operation due to strike by the drivers for being deprived of the allowances and the takeover of a new company to run the operations entered the 10th day on Monday.
“We are forced to use the expensive mode of public transport (online taxi, rickshaw etc) since there is no reasonable public transport available on Ferozepur Road at present,” Akmal, who use to travel from Gajjumatta to Civil Secretariat daily told this reporter.
Talking to Dawn, an official of the Punjab Mass Transit Authority said though the drivers’ protests ended about four days back, the Metro bus operation couldn’t be resumed due to testing of new buses by the new operator appointed after expiry of the contract with the previous company.
“Hopefully, the operation would resume with new buses and the management within the next couple of days,” he added.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2021