LAHORE - The Metro Bus service remained suspended on eighth consecutive day on Saturday as visually-impaired persons continued their sit-in at Kalma Chowk terminal.

In the scorching heat of May and the holy month of fasting, as many as 15 blind persons are staging a protest on the bus track against the authorities for denying them jobs quota.

According to a source, the protest has cost government Rs180 million until now. But neither the government nor opposition has made any serious effort to listen to the special people and assure them of solving their problem. Also, no relevant department is willing to provide any explanation of this turning a blind eye to the blind.

This is not the first time the special persons have come on roads to demand their right. Earlier, they blocked the metro bus and held protests on Dec 4, 2017; Dec 3, 2016; March 2, 2015; April 13, 2015; June 8, 2015; Jan 11, 2016; and Aug 1, 2016.

On Saturday, they continued their sit-in at the bus track, keeping the service suspended throughout the day. The protesters are fed up with false promises made to them by the authorities in the past, and they have refused to end their sit-in until their demands are fulfilled.

Hafiz Abdul Razaq, a special protester from Bahawalpur, said he was jobless and did not have any source of income to feed his family. He said he was a qualified person and needed a job.

The protesters claimed the Social Welfare Department was a hurdle in provision of jobs to them.

Rights activists have called for immediately addressing the issue and resume bus service.

“It is duty of all governments who call themselves civilised to protect rights of vulnerable persons and ensure their access to employment, fair wages and decent work,” HRCP said on Friday.

The protesters have demanded that the authorities grant special persons their rights. This includes regularising services of visually impaired persons working on daily wages and creating better employment opportunities for them.

A visually impaired person, who has been doing a telephone operator’s job at Town Hall on a contract basis, said his contract was not renewed after it expired in March.

“I did masters in 2014 from the Punjab University, but the government did not consider us for any suitable job,” he said.

Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Makhdum, 17, is a polio-affected person from Sharif Abbas, a village in Jhang district. He says he has done matriculation, but the government did not consider him for any job.

Uman Saeed came from Islamabad to support his community and press for acceptance of its demands. He said Lahore Deputy Commissioner Sumair Ahmed Syed telephoned him and asked him to vacate the place, but he said he needs assurance on acceptance of their demands.

“I will not bluff with my community as they are saying they have asked the deputy commissioner of Bahawalpur to look into the matter [as well],” he said.