Disgruntled drivers: Metro bus service halts for three hours

Drivers protest against non-payment of salaries, resume work after assurance

Our Correspondent July 10, 2015
Nearly 200 drivers of the metro buses protested at the secretariat station in favour of their demands. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of passengers of the metro buses were stranded at the stations after bus drivers observed a three hour sit-in against non-payment of salaries, unjust deductions and non-provision of other ‘promised’ facilities.

The newly-inaugurated service was suspended between Rawalpindi and Islamabad at around 2pm after nearly 200 drivers of the metro buses protested at the secretariat station in favour of their demands.

The service resumed at around 4:45pm after the management held successful negotiations with the staffers.

It is worth remembering that the human resource section of the project has been outsourced to various private firms who failed to pay salaries to their staffers in time.

“They have yet to pay us the salary for June,” said a driver who requested not to be named, adding that last month the management had deducted Rs2,000 from the salary of each driver without citing any reason.

He said later on the demand of drivers, they were informed that deduction had been made on the account of ‘security’.

The monthly salary of each driver is Rs20,000.

At the time of appointment, he said, drivers were assured that they would be paid overtime allowance as well.

“Now, instead of paying us overtime, the management is making deductions from our salaries for a number of reasons including delayed arrival of buses at the stations,” he informed. To a question, he said, the arrival of buses was delayed due to uneven and faulty path of the metro buses especially in Rawalpindi where the track was bumpy and uneven.

After getting the news of the service’s suspension, the operations manager of the project reached the venue but the drivers refused to hold a negotiation with him.

Later, Kamal Ahmad, a trainer from Turkey, reached the venue where he was handed over an eight-point letter of demands.

“Ahmad has assured us that the demands of drivers will be met at every cost,” the driver said, adding that after his assurance the drivers resumed the service.

Talking to The Express Tribune, an official of the Metro Bus Authority acknowledged the fact that a private firm, Skills, had been outsourced the human resource section of the project. “The company has been paid off the agreed amount well in time. The company will be questioned as to why it failed to distribute it among the drivers,” he said.

The chairman of the authority, Hanif Abbasi, could not be reached despite several attempts.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2015.