Bashir Ahmed, along with his old mother, wife, and children, travelled from a village 17 km away from Liaquatpur city to reach the General Bus Stand. They had to endure the sweltering heat while waiting for the bus heading to Bahawalnagar. The bus stand was full of barbers and poultry vendors seeking shade under the shelter.
Bashir looked for shelter under the canopies erected in front of nearby shops, where his family waited for the bus. Meanwhile, his elderly and weak mother, who has diabetes, urgently needed to use the restroom. However, upon inquiry, they discovered that no toilet facility was available nearby. A compassionate hawker recognised her predicament and directed the elderly woman to her home near the bus stand to use the facilities. However, the bus had already departed when she returned, causing them to miss it.
The windows and doors of the passenger compartment at this bus stand, situated on the land of Burlab Shahi Road city in Kuchi Mandi, have vanished, and a large portion of the roof has collapsed. What was once a busy bus stand has now transformed into a dumping ground for dirt and waste.
Buses and wagons do not arrive at this location anymore. Instead, all transport lorries are now parked on the road outside the base, causing disruptions during morning and evening hours when they stop at Allahwala Chowk, impacting the traffic flow.
Lala Muhammad Iqbal Baloch has served as the base manager of a company of mini coaches in Liaquatpur for the last two decades. He says the General Bus Stand was constructed in the 1980s but has not been operating at its total capacity for several years.
The Municipal Committee awards the bus stand contract every year, and this year’s contract is worth Rs 45 lakh.
The contractor collects Rs 100 from every bus and AC coach and Rs 50 from mini-coaches and wagons that arrive at the outside road or Allahwala Chowk.
Iqbal says the government could construct a general bus stand through a public-private partnership. This bus stand could accommodate workshops, spare parts shops, tuck shops, and other markets. He emphasises that all the bases currently built on the roads should be removed and relocated to the bus stand.
Former Provincial Assembly Member Chaudhry Mahmood Ahmed has twice visited the General Bus Stand. According to him, this place does not meet the requirements of a proper bus stand. He mentions that in 2019, he requested the municipal committee of Liaquatpur for the complete data on this bus stand, but it has not been provided yet. He observes that certain individuals occupy the area with the ‘blessings’ of the municipal committee officials.
He states that his future priorities include relocating the general bus stand and the under-completed vegetable market on Channigoth Road. The new location will be equipped with all the necessary modern facilities per the requirements.
Chaudhry Mahmood Ahmed mentions that there is a proposal to construct a community hall for the people of Kuchi Mandi in place of the current bus stand. He adds that they could also consider purchasing private land if there is limited government space for the new bus stand.
Former Chairman of the Municipal Committee Liaquatpur and President Central Anjuman Tajran Liaquatpur, Rashid Rafiq Chaudhry, says that the approval for this general bus stand was granted about four decades ago. However, the area was reduced due to the construction of a school and rescue offices on this land, and since then, it could not be renewed.
Rashid explains that during his tenure as Chairman of the Municipal Committee Liaquatpur, he met with the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Rahim Yar Khan, to request the renewal of the bus stand license. The Secretary informed him that the government’s policy requires at least less than 28 kanals of land for a C-class bus stand. As a result, it can be said that the General Bus Stand of Liaquatpur is currently not approved.
This lack of approval is also why the Municipal Committee collects “Parking Fee” instead of “Bus Stand Fee.”
Riyasat Ali, the Secretary of Regional Transport Authority Rahim Yar Khan, states that there is no official bus stand in Liaquatpur.
Haji Muhammad Akram Wasir, the deputy nazim of Union Council City Liaquatpur and a councillor elected multiple times from Kuchi Mandi, reveals the historical significance of the current truck depot location. He explains that it used to be a rest house of the Abbasid Nawabs of Bahawalpur state, but it fell into disuse over time.
In the 1980s, the then Commissioner of Bahawalpur allocated the same land in Mauza Chaudhry for the General Bus Stand. Initially, this area spanned over 15 acres. However, various public facilities were later established on the same land, including a mosque, Eid Gah, a Girls’ Elementary School (now Secondary School), a Boys’ Primary School, Public Health Department, and Rescue 1122 offices.
“An ex-chairman of Liaquatpur municipality had also allocated significant land to his favourite individuals.
“Furthermore, nearby residents also occupied some of the bus stand’s land. As a result, the current area of the bus stand is no more than 10 or 12 kanals, which is why it fails to meet the transport department’s C class classification.”
Mumtaz Hussain Baloch, the General Secretary of Anjuman Tajran, operates a business near Allahwala Chowk. He mentions that the shopkeepers in the area view the stopping of buses and wagons as beneficial for their businesses. However, the frequent parking of donkey carts and loader rickshaws for the movement of passenger rickshaws, motorcycles, and goods at the square causes various issues.
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Khalid Mahmood Khan Baloch, a former councillor of Municipal Committee Liaquatpur and resident of Allahwala Chowk, expressed concern about the residents’ plight due to illegal transport bases. The drivers of coaches, buses, and wagons parked in the area continuously honk their pressure horns without permission, causing significant and deafening noise pollution.
According to parking contractor Shahid Akbar Chaudhry, despite paying a substantial amount, there are no facilities provided at the bus stand for passengers, transporters, and the employees of the collecting contractor.
he fact that the bus stand still needs to be approved raises concerns about the actions of the local and district administration. He says an inquiry should be conducted to investigate the illegal occupation of the bus stand land.
Abdul Ghafoor Kamboh, the in-charge of traffic police, states that the police staff had made multiple requests to the former assistant commissioners in various meetings. The requests were to address the issue of encroachments at the General Bus Stand and provide better facilities to prevent traffic jams on Shahi Road and Allahwala Chowk. However, no progress has been made so far.
Mohammad Shakib Sarwar has recently been appointed as Assistant Commissioner of Liaquatpur, and he also holds the charge of Administrator of Municipal Committee Liaquatpur. He highlights that the current location of the General Bus Stand in Liaquatpur needs to be increased. As part of the future plans of Liaquatpur Municipal Committee, they aim to relocate the bus stand to a more suitable location outside the city.
Published on 7 Aug 2023