Left without shelter: Waiting commuters remain exposed to the elements in city

Bus services may have improved, but passengers wait for vehicles under open sky

Imran Adnan July 02, 2017

LAHORE: Nearly four government agencies have accepted the responsibility to build and maintain bus shelters in the provincial capital, but commuters continue to brave the weather and endure others hardships when waiting for transport.

Most locals say this is due to sheer negligence on the part of the state. Various citizens complained about the inadequate facilities provided by the Punjab government.
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Muhammad Bashir, a local commuter, pointed out that even though Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif won the general elections thanks to the Metro Bus service, passengers are still without proper shelters.

He said the CM was hoping to inaugurate Lahore Orange Line Metro Train before the 2018 general elections, but not doing anything to improve existing services, despite huge criticism from opposition parties.

A Ghari Shahu resident, Muhammad Ilyas, pointed out that the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) operates different buses in the area, but there is not a single shelter on Allama Iqbal Road or Edgerton Road. “People wait for busses in blazing the sunlight or pouring rain. Some take shelters in nearby buildings or shops as multiple government agencies had failed to build bus shelters in the city”, he maintained.

Similar remarks were made by several commuters who faced these hardships on a daily basis. While criticising the flawed public transport policy, another passenger Waqas said the government had recently started feeder buses on 14 routes around the city to increase passengers for the Lahore Metro Bus service.

Two hundred new buses were imported by Daewoo Pakistan for the service. Waqas said millions of dollars in precious foreign exchange were spent on the project. Though these buses had made traveling easier, commuters still wait for them while exposed to the elements, he added.

LTC representative said the construction of a bus shelter did not fall under the ambit of his company. He said that earlier bus shelters were constructed by the Lahore Division Commissioner, Parks and Horticulture Authority and the City District Government. He highlighted several bus shelters had been demolished for the construction of the metro train project, while some were razed to widen roads.
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Interestingly, the company recently floated a tender to auction advertisement rights of over 150 bus shelters around the city. Bidding documents indicated that the company reserved a price up to Rs1.4 million per month at each bus shelter.  Estimates suggested that the company would earn around Rs10 million per shelter annually, while repair, maintenance and security would be responsibility of the contractor.

An official at the Lahore Division Commissioner’s office said bus shelters had been revamped on Mall Road, Jail Road, Canal Road and Main Boulevard after instructions from the chief minister. He said maintaining these facilities was the responsibility of LTC, but government asked agencies to intervene for various reasons.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2017.


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