Goodbye Lahore, see you on Monday

City getting deserted as mass exodus begins | Poor security arrangements made at bus stands, railway station

Nasir Butt

LAHORE: Half of the city has been vacated as Pardesis (those who have migrated to Lahore) have started leaving for their hometowns two days before Eid, while others have reserved their seats in the public transport for the Tuesday (today).

The mass exodus of more than three million people from Lahore was started on Saturday as the federal government employees after getting salaries from banks and submitting applications leaves for Monday and Tuesday started their journey as the government has announced Eid holidays from October 1 to 3 &4.

This exodus of aliens reaches its climax on Monday as employees of the Punjab government after getting salaries have left for their hometowns. Extraordinary rush was observed at all the exit points of the provincial metropolis. This happens every year as a number of Pardesis return to their native cities and districts to celebrate Eid with near and dear ones.

People anxious to return to their native districts congested the Lahore Airport, the city’s railway station and bus terminals at General Bus stand (Larri Adda), Shera Kot, Daewoo bus terminal at Kalma Chowk on Monday till late at night, despite the fact that Sh’wal moon may not be sighted on Tuesday meaning thereby that Eid will fall on Wednesday, people have already gone on Eid vacation.

Big business markets, factories and government offices presented an almost deserted look. People rushed to get tickets at General Bus Stand, City District Bus Terminal, Niazi Adda, Rahber Bus Stand and small bus terminals on Ferozepur Road and Bund Road. The majority of travelers were government servants. As educational institutes like the University of the Punjab, University of Engineering and Technology, NCA, King Edward Medical College, Allama Iqbal Medical College and Fatima Jinnah Medical College have already announced Eid holidays, hordes of students carrying luggage lined up in long queues at ticket counters.

Some government and private employees have already sent their families to their hometowns. It was their turn to go back now but they didn’t get a red carpet welcome at bus terminals and railway stations. A survey conducted by The Post at General Bus Stand, City District Government Lahore (CDGL) bus terminal and at Rahber Bus Stand revealed that the government’s security plans were poorly chalked out and half-heartedly implemented. No detailed security checks are being carried out at stations. Passengers are simply boarding buses and trains. Badami Bagh General Bus Stand doesn’t have sufficient security arrangements. It seems as if the authorities are waiting for an accident to occur.

DDO Syed Ehsan Zaidi was not available for comments. However his staff claimed that ‘foolproof’ security arrangements had been made with special squads present at all terminals. They asserted that inspectors were checking entry and exit points at terminals. They claimed that DDO and administrator had been checking bags themselves. Complaint centers have also been established to help passengers. The terminal staffers at Sikandria Bus Terminal said that about 500 buses had left Sikandria Bus Terminal and 600 had left from Badami Bagh: “The number of people leaving Lahore will cross 100,000 this evening,” they claimed.

On the other hand, Secretary District Regional Transport authority (DRTA) has denied that bus services are overcharging passengers. It was also claimed that no passenger had lodged a complaint against overcharging. Special’ squads have been formed to check overcharging by the transporters and no body would be allowed to charge excessive fare than the fixed charges.

There was also hustle and bustle at the Lahore Railway Station. To cope with the situation, Pakistan Railways has announced five extra trains for Eid passengers, while last year the number of special trains was 9 which has been reduced to fifty per cent. The special trains will provide service on the Lahore-Karachi, Lahore-Rawalpindi, Lahore-Faisalabad, Lahore-Sialkot and Lahore-Narowal routes.

Courtesy: The Post, 29/9/2008

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