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Bus service in trouble from the start

ISLAMABAD, Aug 1: As the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is eyeing a place near Faizabad flyover for launching it bus service, Rawalpindi Transport Authority (RTA) fears it may become a spot of conflict with the union of wagon drivers.

The CDA plans to ply a 30-vehicle bus service with its main hub near the Faizabad flyover.

Requesting anonymity, an official in the RTA asked: “Why are they establishing the bus stop at Faizabad…why not Rawat or any other location.”

He feared that the bus service`s main point in Faizabad would badly hit the business of local private buses and wagons, bringing commuters from Rawalpindi to Islamabad daily.

A representative of wagons` union, who runs a wagon from Saddar in Rawalpindi to Secretariat in the capital – the prized route no 1 –also opposed the CDA`s plan.

“We will not accept any bus service until routes are decided.” He threatened that the union would call for strike if the Capital Development Authority did not share details of routes with them.

More than 300 wagons run on the route no 1 daily in the twin cities.

“Our business will be hit hard by the new service,” he said. “It is already on the downslide because of fuel prices.”

However Ramzan Sajid, spokesman for CDA, downplayed chances of any controversy over the bus service.

“We will be establishing the bus stop only after taking stakeholders on board. Everyone will be consulted,” Mr Sajid said.

“We have decided to run buses from Faizabad. It will be the main point of our service, which we are launching on the direction of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.”

He said the new bus service would run on the routes of Faizabad, Faisal Avenue and F-11 to the secretariat. “Modalities over the fare are yet to be decided by the board.”

In July the prime minister directed the authority to launch the bus service within six months. “We will meet the target,” claimed the spokesman.

Meanwhile, an official in the local administration told Dawn that the CDA has not approached its relevant department for getting a No Objection Certificate for getting clearance to run buses within Islamabad.

“The CDA is yet to write to us for permission for running its bus service within the capital city.” The ICT official said the CDA has to take officials of the Rawalpindi Transport Authority, Islamabad Transport Authority and even local bus and wagon service operators onboard before launching the bus service. “If they ignore any of them the bus service may run into trouble,” warned the official.

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