LAHORE – Commuting within Lahore is not something people in the right frame of mind would relish. You have to contend with dilapidated roads, logic-defying speed breakers, endless traffic jams, ever-increasing VIP movement and what not. However, in recent years, a new phenomenon has made life hell for the commuters in the provincial metropolis, especially during school timings.
Because neither public nor private educational institutions seem keen on providing proper transportation facilities to the students, the parents themselves have to bear this responsibility at the cost of their precious time and money. Also, thousands of vehicles used for the purpose – including private pick-ups, vans, auto rickshaws and motorcycle rickshaws – cause hours-long traffic jams on City roads.
Almost all the roads and localities – particularly Jail Road, Shadman, Main Boulevard Gulberg, Canal Road, etc. – where major educational institutions are located witness a traffic mess both in the morning and afternoon.
Although some private schools and government colleges have their own or rented buses to facilitate the students, their numbers so far are not too many to change the situation for the better. As a result, a large number of students are compelled to use public transport and they could be seen packed like sardines in buses and vans.
The lack of proper transportation facilities has also caused many serious accidents wherein dozens of innocent students have lost their lives. Because of lack of space in buses and the fact that the students pay lower fare than other commuters, many male students, especially those coming from City suburbs and nearby cities, are made to sit on the roofs of buses that often results in accidents. The lack of proper transportation facilities by educational institutions also puts an additional financial burden on the parents who have to hire private pick and drop vans for this purpose. According to parents, they have to pay between Rs2000 and Rs6000 per child to private transporters.
“Despite spending a hefty amount on the transportation of my children to school, I do not feel secure and am restless until they return home,” says Abdur Rauf Butt, a resident of Allama Iqbal Town whose children study in a private school in Gulberg.
EDO (Schools) Pervaiz Akhtar told this scribe that government schools in the provincial metropolis do not have buses, so the students have to manage their transportation themselves. “More than 625,000 students are studying in almost 1,250 government school; while more than 800,000 students are studying in about 5,000 private schools. The Punjab Private School Registration Act, 1984, does not bind the schools to provide transportation to the students,” he informed.