LAHORE: Transporters have voiced strong opposition to the city government’s plan to shift the city’s oldest and largest bus stand from Lorry Adda to Thokar Niaz Beg, saying that it will create traffic issues and result in bus services being moved further away from the people who rely on them.

Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency Director (Traffic Engineering) Israr Saeed said that originally, the plan was for the General Bus Stand to eventually be shifted to three bus terminals, at Thokar, at Ferozepur Road and at Shahdara. The terminal at Thokar Niaz Beg, Multan Road, is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed at the end of this month. Work on the other two terminals is yet to begin.

Saeed said that according to the city’s master plan, only south-bound bus services would be shifted to the Multan Road terminal. “If all transporters were to be shifted to Multan Road, it would simply transfer the traffic congestion in Badamibagh to Multan Road,” he said.

He agreed that the shifting of the bus stand would greatly increase the traffic load on the Canal Road and Multan Road.

Punjab Bus Owners Association President Haji Khalid said that bus companies were being asked to shift from an area of around 260 kanals and squeeze into a 109-kanal area at the Multan Road terminal with no parking areas and no workshops. He said that some 6,000 vans and buses go on various routes from Lorry Adda.

He said that most of the customers for inter-city bus services starting at Lorry Adda lived in Badamibagh, Shahdara, Mughalpura and Baghbanpura close to the General Bus Stand. “People living in EME Colony, now a part of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA Lahore), Bahria Town, Westwood, Canal View and Tech Society do not use buses to go to other cities,” he said, referring to housing schemes close to Thokar.
“Customers will just have to pay extra to reach the bus stand at Thokar Niaz Beg, increasing traffic on Canal Bank Road. Then the buses going to Gujranwla, Muridke, Islamabad and so on will have to travel back in the opposite direction using the Motorway, adding to fuel charges for transporters,” he said.

All Pakistan Workers Transport Foundation General Secretary Muhammad Wajid said that transporters had paid Rs1.61 billion in taxes since 2003, in return for which the government had given them nothing. “They didn’t give us any facilities for drinking water, waiting areas or toilets. Everything at Lorry Adda was built with money from our pockets. Does the government just expect us to abandon our investment and start spending our money at Thokar?”

He added that hotels and restaurants near the Lorry Adda General Bus Stand would also suffer from the move. The Lorry Adda Transport Union has already rejected the plan and threatened to go on strike.

A National Highway and Motorway Authority official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the authority had reservations about the traffic problems that shifting the bus stand might create and had conveyed its concerns to the city government, and would do so with the chief minister soon.