The new metro bus contractor is ramping up operations. The Punjab Masstransit Authority (PMA) is preparing to bid farewell to Turkish contractor Albayrak Group as a local contractor prepares to take over the Lahore Metro Bus service operations for the next eight years.
PMA General Manager Syed Uzair Shah revealed to The Express Tribune on Sunday that a local operator, Veda Transit Solutions, is set to take over the Lahore Metro Bus service operations in a couple of weeks. He noted that the new contractor had already bought 56 articulated buses measuring 18 meters in length for mass transport operations.
“The new contractor – a subsidiary of the Raaziq Group – is awaiting registration and examination of buses under the Vehicle Inspection and Certification System. Therefore, it is only a matter of days before the PMA notifies the Turkish contractor in writing to cease operations,” he stated.
In response to a question, he noted that protesting metro bus drivers desired that the new contractor hire them all, in addition to their demands for early payment of gratuity and bonus, as well as experience letters. By bringing the matter to the Turkish contractor’s attention, the authority satisfied one of the requirements by issuing experience letters to all drivers. He asserted that their other pending payment requests would also be paid, after which the PMA will reach a final settlement with the Turkish firm following the transfer of operations to the new contractor.
“The authority does not influence the private contractor’s recruitment policy. The new contractor is currently recruiting and serving new drivers to ensure the Lahore Metro Bus service runs well. However, we have requested that protesting drivers submit their demands in writing because there is a schism among them, and everyone is attempting to exert pressure on the company,” he said, adding that would meet all legitimate demands.
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Veda Transit Solutions obtained Rs2.6 billion earlier this month by signing a financing arrangement with a consortium of banks led by the Bank of Punjab to procure 64 new articulated buses for the Lahore Metro Bus operations.
The group began running mass transit in 2017 as a joint venture between Raaziq Group, Transit Associated, and Pakistan Catalyst Fund (JS Bank + USAID) to operate the Multan Metro Bus feeder project. After acquiring expertise in metro bus operations, it will now manage the Lahore Metro Bus service for the next eight years.
According to estimates, the domestic contract would save the government approximately Rs2 billion in cost savings and foreign exchange fluctuation. Additionally, it will produce about 500 jobs for residents.
Punjab’s administration has previously announced a plan to modernize the province’s public transportation infrastructure in all major cities. The Chief Minister, Sardar Usman Buzdar, held a meeting last week to discuss ideas for the inauguration of new public transportation systems in several cities. He also considered a plan to expand the usage of double-decker buses in major cities.
He asked concerned officials to make complete proposals for final approval at a regional cabinet meeting. Finally, he announced the government’s decision to establish eco-friendly electric buses in Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, and Faisalabad.
Earlier this year, the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) bid farewell to Turkish contractors and the PMA appears set to follow suit, as the provincial government led by Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to slash exorbitantly high costs associated with contracts signed during the rule of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
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