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Bus terminals yet to be shifted out

ISLAMABAD, March 17: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has failed to shift the five main bus stations out of the city even after allocating 164 kanals at Sector I-11/4 for this purpose and spending Rs6.5 million on development of basic infrastructure there, Dawn has learnt.

There is no policy to regulate the establishment of bus stations in the city. As a result, several inter-city bus terminals have sprung up along I.J. Principal Road and near the Faizabad flyover. Another inter-city bus terminal also exists at Karachi Company.

The Faizabad flyover has become a bottleneck for traffic and causes difficulty for vehicles making an exit towards Islamabad Expressway and entering the city because of the massive congestion created by the bus stations located within the I-8 sector border area.

A helpline official of Islamabad Traffic Police said they had to deploy staff at Faizabad bus terminal because of the frequent traffic jams there.

“It’s not only the bus terminals that are leading to congestion on roads, there is also no terminal for intra-city public transport vehicles,” he observed.

An official of the CDA on the request of anonymity told Dawn that Lahore High Court had issued directives to the Islamabad Transport Authority and the civic agency’s directorate of municipal administration for shifting the bus stations out of the city in
2003.

The court had also ordered that the affected owners of the bus stations should be allotted alternative terminals at appropriate locations.

The official said the DMA and ITA had assured the court that the bus stations would be allotted a better location and shifted out of the city. However, the authorities have so far failed to fulfil their promise even after nine years.

“Around Rs6.5 million were spent on laying the road network and making a parking area at the new site along with a sewerage system but no other development work could be initiated by the Capital Development Authority because of red tape,” claimed
the official.

The bus terminal owners also had similar views. “The new bus stations should only accommodate the displaced transporters once the inter-city bus terminals are shifted out. Other parties from other cities should not be accommodated here,” said Irfan
Khan Niazi, the president of Islamabad Transport and Passengers Welfare Association while talking to Dawn.

He said they were not doing anything wrong in using the existing bus terminals since they had obtained no-objection certificates way back in 1990.

“The ITA’s assent was also sought and we were allowed to run the inter-city bus terminals without any prerequisites,” said Mr Niazi.

When approached, the chairman of CDA, Farkhand Iqbal, said: “The land at I-11/4 is still reserved for an international-standard bus terminal but since CDA is short of money we are looking for alternatives.

We will establish the new terminals in partnership with government-funded institutions like the Fauji Foundation, etc.”

He said the court decision would be followed in letter and spirit and there were no deviations from the CDA’s stance.

“I have already taken a briefing in this regard and everyone is on board. A decision will be taken as soon as we find a better funding source for the project,” said Mr Iqbal.

The CDA chairman said all bus stations, including the one at Karachi Company, would be removed once the new terminal was established at the planned location.

Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner of Islamabad, Amir Ali Ahmed, said: “I will look into the issue and call the ITA officials.”

He said he knew there was a court ruling on shifting of the bus stations to a new location but once I get an input, including from my officials, I will move forward,” he added.

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