LAHORE, April 12: Operation of the only air-conditioned bus service in Punjab capital and elsewhere in the country was suspended on Tuesday after demolition of its main workshop near Kalma Chowk along Ferozpur Road by the Lahore Development Authority.
The inter-city bus service was restored late in the evening while that of Lahore did not resume till late night.
Daewoo, a South Korean company, had established the workshop more than five years ago for the maintenance of its inter-city and intra-city buses over two plots at Garden Block of Garden Town.
The LDA staff reached the spot at around 10.30am and with the help of heavy machinery started pulling down the workshop structure.
There was chaos at the spot and the company drivers started moving the buses towards the Lahore Canal bridge and Kalma Chowk where they parked the vehicles in the middle of the two intersections. Within minutes, there was a worst-ever traffic jam in the vicinity.
Meanwhile, Daewoo chief executive officer in Pakistan Mr C I Kim ordered suspension of all kind of bus operation throughout the country, including Lahore. Some three vehicles at the company’s inter-city stand across Ferozepur Road were about to leave but the passengers were asked to alight from the buses. Similar incidents were also reported at the bus stands near railway station, Baggrian, Y-Block of DHA and other parts of Lahore.
Traffic wardens’ attempts to persuade drivers to remove their vehicles from Canal Bridge intersection and Kalma Chowk failed to bear any fruit. Led by senior officers, a heavy contingent of police also reached the spot.
Talks between senior police officers and Daewoo officials continued for four hours or so after which the latter decided to remove the buses from the two intersections. By then, there were long queues of vehicles on both sides of the Canal Bank, Ferozepur and Wahdat roads besides main boulevards of Gulberg and New Garden Town. However, traffic flow on the affected thoroughfares could not be normalised till late in the evening.
An LDA official involved in the operation told Dawn that the company had purchased residential plots No 96 and 96-A, measuring four-kanal 13-marla and one-kanal and six-marla, respectively, in the Garden Block of Garden Town.
“Without getting the residential property commercialised, the company started commercial activities in residential area. Later, the company raised a structure on the property without getting its building plan approved. Several notices were served on the company and the premises were sealed many a time. But the company paid no heed, de-sealed the premises without any authority and resumed illegal commercial activity there. A notice was also served on the company before today’s operation,” the official said.
However, Daewoo spokesperson Naeem told Dawn that the company had to suspend its service in Lahore for safety reasons. “We have a high standard of maintenance to ensure a safe journey. Since we are unable to carry out routine maintenance of our fleet owing to illegal demolition of our main workshop, we decided to suspend our service in Lahore till either an alternative place is arranged or the matter is resolved.
“We have workshops in other cities where routine maintenance of intra-city buses can be carried out that is why we have resumed operations there,” said Naeem.