Non-payment of two month salaries to employees
Commuters fume as Metro buses go off track in Rawalpindi
RAWALPINDI: A large number of commuters faced problems as the Metro Bus Service remained suspended on Friday due to a strike by its staff members over the non-payment of their two-month salaries by the management.
The drivers of the newly-launched service parked their buses at the main bus terminal set up near Flashman’s Hotel, Mall Road, as well as in Islamabad. They refused to ply buses until the payment of their salaries by the management.
The employees, particularly drivers, have threatened to halt the bus service if the Punjab government and the concerned officials fail to release their salaries before Eid-ul-Fitr. The protesting employees carried banners in their hands which were inscribed with slogans against the Punjab government and the officials of the Metro Bus Authority.
The employees of Metro Bus Authority also protested against non-payment of salaries at the main bus terminal in Saddar and raised vociferous slogans against the management and the Punjab government.
The employees demanded the Punjab chief minister to take serious notice of the non-payment of salaries to them. Action must be taken against the concerned officials, who in a very short period, have created financial problems in the bus service.
The Metro Bus Service was launched in the twin cities on June 4 by the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister. Whereas, the Metro Bus Authority office started working from the time when work on the project started last year in March 2014. The recruitment of staff was completed in October last year.
Commuters were happy with the launch of a modern transport facility, but only after one month of its operation they have been forced to face problems due to the strike of the bus service employees. Not only people remained tense but the entire staff of MBA seemed perturbed because they were not paid their emoluments despite discharging professional duties.
Due to closure of Metro Bus Service, the problem of shortage of transport was faced by the residents in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as they remained stranded at Metro bus terminals for long hours but failed to avail its services because of the strike. The office workers suffered badly due to non-plying of Metro buses. After coming to know about the strike by the bus employees, people, having no other option, preferred to avail the services of public transport which were plying on service roads of Benazir Bhutto Road. However in Islamabad, many people have to walk a long distance to get a wagon to reach Rawalpindi.
Talking to this correspondent, the people stranded at Mall Road Bus Terminal lashed out at the inefficiency of the concerned authorities, saying that only a month has passed after the inauguration and the commuters have started facing trouble.
Iftikhar Ahmad, waiting at Committee Chowk terminal, expressed his anger over the suspension of Metro Bus Service only after one month of its operation. After only one month, financial problems have erupted in the MBA then how the service would continue in the coming years, he questioned.
He demanded that the Punjab chief minister should order an inquiry into the matter that how in a short span of time financial problems have developed in the bus authority as a result of which employees have not been paid their emoluments.
On the other hand, Metro Bus Project (MBP) Muhammad Hanif Abbasi, when contacted by ‘The News,’ assured that the issue would be resolved soon. He said that salaries would be paid within an hour. “I have contacted the Metro Bus Authority (MBA) to resolve the issue in minutes,” he assured.
He said that the majority of drivers are associated with a private company therefore concerned company was responsible for paying them salaries. “But, we would handle this issue soon and buses would run on the track as per routine,” he claimed.
When ‘The News’ contacted the Metro Bus Service (MBS) drivers, they said that the Metro Bus Authority promised to pay them salaries and other dues by the end of every month. “But for five months, we are facing worst kind of difficulties in getting our salaries and other dues therefore we have stopped plying buses,” they claimed.
They said that the Metro Bus Authority neither gives them break for meals nor prayers. “We cannot survive in this situation,” they said. “We have been working for 12 hours, and for the last two months we have not been paid salaries,” they said.On the other hand, a large number of fasting commuters, having tickets in their hands, have to stand for hours in wait for buses.