Azadi March: Islamabad metro closure causes loss of Rs42m


ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) has suffered a loss of Rs 42 million on account of the 12-day closure of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus.

The metro has been closed since Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) launched its Azadi March about two weeks ago in the federal capital. It has not only been causing a heavy loss to the national exchequer but also creating trouble for the commuters who travel daily from Rawalpindi to Islamabad and vice versa.

The local administration of Islamabad, in a letter issued on October 30, had asked the PMA to hand over the possession of the metro bus’ depot located near H-9 – a venue where the JUI-F was allowed to stage its protest, official sources in the PMTA told APP on Monday. The district administration sealed the metro’s depot before the arrival of Azadi March in the federal capital, they added.

“The authority generates revenue of approximately Rs3.5 million per day through the Rawalpindi-Islamabad bus service and has lost approximately Rs42 million in the last 12 days due to ongoing sit-in of the JUI-F,” they said.

Around 120,000 to 130,000 passengers travel in the twin cities metro daily, they added.

The sources maintained that the PMA was ready to start the bus operation if the depot was handed back to the authority while ensuring the security.

To a query, they said that the fueling, maintenance and washing of buses were being carried out at the depot on regular basis. Without the depot, the authority could not operate the buses as they required regular maintenance, they added.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat confirmed that the depot was in custody of district administration and said it had held discussion with the PMA to again operationalise the metro service.

The district administration had asked the authority to arrange other workshops for the buses’ daily repairs if they want to resume the services, he added.

Meanwhile, the residents of twin cities, were also bearing the brunt of this ongoing sit-in of JUI-F as they were forced to hire taxis and online ride-hailing services for traveling in the twin cities.

Sharjeel Khan, a resident of People’s Colony, Rawalpindi said he had to reach his office, located at Sector I-9 and had to pay Rs 300 as a taxi fare to reach his destination.

He complained that the private vehicles had also taking the undue advantage of prevailing situation by charging high fares to the commuters.