09/12/2020

Non-payment of pay for three months: Workers’ protest keeps metro bus service suspended for hours - Pakistan - DAWN.COM

LAHORE: The metro bus operation in Lahore remained suspended for about six
hours on Saturday due to a protest by the workers against non-payment of salaries
for three months.
There are reports that the employees of the metro bus in Rawalpindi also suspended the bus
operation there in protest against nonpayment of pay.
The protesting employees started gathering at Gajjumatta, Shahdara, Bhati Chowk and some
other stations and stopped the metro bus forcibly on the track at about 8am. They asked the
passengers to leave the buses and opt for other means of transport to reach their destinations.
They warned the drivers to avoid driving the buses and park them at Shahdara and Gajjumata
depots.
“The protest put many passengers, including the elderly, in trouble as they were forced to use
other public transport,” said an official who wanted to remain anonymous.
“Keeping in view the situation, the authorities called police who took some of the protesters into
custody. This flared up the protesters who held a sit-in on the bus track, stopping the operation
till 2pm,” he added.
A long delay in the release of the quarterly amount of subsidy to the Punjab Mass Transit
Authority (PMTA) by the provincial government has been cited as the main reason for nonpayment of salaries to the employees for the last three months, Dawn has learnt.
“No one bothered about our repeated requests for payment of salaries and we were left with no
option but to launch a protest that caused the suspension of the metro bus operations in Lahore,”
an employee of a private company responsible for running the automated ticketing system under
an agreement with the PMTA said.
“The protests were also organised in Rawalpindi on the issue. If there is no payment in the
coming days, there would be no bus operation,” he warned.
The Punjab government is responsible of paying Rs12.5bn annual subsidy for the metro bus in
Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan. The PMTA, a subsidiary of the government’s transport
department, receives subsidy in four quarterly installments and makes payments to the
companies to whom it had outsourced the services related to ticketing, cleanliness, bus
operations, security, repair/maintenance etc. However, for a couple of years, especially during
the last six months, the release of quarterly subsidy to the PMTA and subsequently to the
companies has been facing delays due to some unexplained administrative and functional issues
allegedly on the part of the government.
According to another official source, the government didn’t release the quarterly installment to
the authority despite reminders.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1592949

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