At least 500 students of the University of Gujrat protested against what they called the university’s poor transport policy on Tuesday.
The students divided themselves in two groups and blocked the GT Road at Wazirabad Bus Stand and along the Chenab River. They also parked 15 university buses on Wazirabad Bus Stand and five along the river. Traffic was affected for more than four hours.
The students held placards and chanted slogans against the university.
They demanded that the number of buses be increased and the out of order buses be repaired.
They said students were charged transport fee at the time of admission irrespective of whether they would use the university transport. They said that two months ago, the university administration had received an additional Rs4,000 from every student to improve the transport facility, but nothing was done.
They said only 20 university buses took students to Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gakhar, Ahmednagar, Sohdara, Sambrial, Wazirabad and Daska.
They said that more than 3,000 students wanted to use these buses. They said as many as 150 students were forced to board the buses, which had a capacity of 70 passengers each. They said evening students also used these buses.
They said most students had to wait for the buses to finish their afternoon rounds and were left waiting for hours.
Muhammad Hashim, one of the protesting students, said most students were frequently late to their classes and sometimes disallowed by the teachers to join.
Some students said they had to sit on the roofs of the buses due to lack of space inside them. In winters, they said, this created more problems.
Saima, a third-year student, said that the students were stuffed in the buses as cattle. She said female students suffered most as they were required to fit in the small women’s compartments. She said most of the female students were forced to travel by rickshaws instead.
The protesters dispersed after security in charge at the University of Gujrat, Maj (retired) Dr Atiqur Rehman, arrived at the scene and assured them that the matter will be taken before the university administration. He also announced that two buses were being added immediately.
Later, talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Rehman said that the university facilities were desgined for 7,000 students. However, he said, there were now 13,000 students in the university.
“This is why the students are now facing problems relating to transport,” he said.
Transport in charge Hafiz Rehan told The Express Tribune that there were 60 university buses plying on various routes.
He said 20 of these served Sialkot and Gujranwala districts. He said the university planned to have old buses repaired, however, it could not afford to buy new ones.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2012.