Hunza News

Wheels jammed: Passengers left stranded after transporters suspend services.

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GILGIT:Hundreds of passengers travelling between Gilgit and Rawalpindi were left stranded on Tuesday as transporters suspended bus services between the two cities.

HunzaNews April 25th, 2014.

The decision to suspend bus traffic was announced by the Gilgit-Baltistan Transport Association (GBTA) and Kohistan Transport Association to press the government into withdrawing the convoy system of buses on the Karakoram Highway (KKH).

Buses on KKH are forced to travel in convoys and avoid travel at night as a security measure by the government. The decision followed several sectarian attacks in 2012 wherein passengers were forced to disembark and were shot dead.

“This (suspension) will last till the acceptance of our demand to end movement in convoys,” said GBTA President Zafar Ali on Thursday.

 

Layovers

At least 30 buses are escorted en masse on the KKH from Gilgit to Rawalpindi and made to stop at several check posts for clearance. This turns the otherwise 13-hour journey between the two cities into an exhausting 26-hour ride, putting extra burden on passengers as well as transporters.

Transporters said they will sell their assets and start another business if the government does not change its decision.

“This system makes passengers more vulnerable as it is flawed,” Ali told The Express Tribune. The policemen escorting the buses lack modern equipment to respond to an emergency situation on the 500-kilometre-long journey.

Extra delays take their toll on passengers, especially women and children, as KKH lacks proper facilities and good hotels, explained the GBTA president.

Government officials in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), said the transporters’ demands cannot be accepted unless the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government gives a green signal.

“The G-B government can’t single-handedly take the decision of ending the convoy system. It will be done once the provincial government gives a nod of approval,” said an official.

KKH is the only land route connecting G-B with rest of the country through Rawalpindi.

Express Tribune

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