BAHAWALPUR: The suspension of the Speedo bus service between Bahawalpur and Lodhran has distressed about 5,000 commuters daily, including a large number of students, local media reports have informed.
Moreso, the discontinuation of the service has resulted in a financial loss of about Rs22 million.
According to an official in the Bahawalpur Development Authority (BDA), the 37 big and small bus stops along the 30-mile-long route connecting both cities were designed and built by a Lahore-based firm and approved by the Shahbaz Sharif government. The entire project had cost Rs22 million, out of which Rs10 million were paid to the contractor, while the remaining was still pending by the BDA. The authority did not have the funds to pay such a huge amount.
Thousands of students from the rural areas of Lodhran, Kahrorepucca and Dunyapur studying in Bahawalpur, who utilised this bus service on a subsidised one-side fare of Rs30 daily, have been affected by this move. Their parents have demanded the Punjab government resume the service so the students are spared the heavy fares of private transport facilities.
Regional Transport Authority District Secretary Dr Saifullah Bhatti, the additional deputy commissioner headquarters, speaking on the suspension said that the bus service had been launched under an agreement between the Punjab government and a foreign bus company till July. The government had paid arrears to the firm till June, while those amounting to millions of rupees were yet to be paid.
He added that the district administration has moved the Punjab government to restore the bus service to facilitate the common man, especially students from Bahawalpur and Lodhran.