A fleet of 20 buses grounded by the Sialkot Transport Company Limited due to unavailability of compact natural gas (CNG) a month ago is irking the commuters.

All the 20 buses were grounded in Sialkot district one month ago, as the management of STCL, a transport wing of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, remained unable to run these buses due to non-availability of CNG.

These buses are non-operational and parked at Lorry Adda Sialkot for the last one month. The STCL officials said that more than 200,000 people used to travel monthly in these buses to different destinations in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils.

In October 2012, the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry had launched the Sialkot Urban Transport Project in collaboration with the Punjab government under the supervision of SCCI’s Sialkot Transport Company. Now, this project has been stopped just after one year of its start. The purpose of starting this project was to provide quality transportation facilities to the people of Sialkot particularly the labour force of Sialkot.

While addressing an important meeting of Sialkot business community held at SCCI on April 24 2012, the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif had offered this project to SCCI. SCCI’s Sialkot Transport Company Limited (STCL) was responsible for execution of Sialkot Urban Transport Project and day to day operations of these buses. Punjab government had provided these buses to Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on 20 percent subsidized price.

The SCCI had purchased these 20 buses and plied on Sialkot-Daska Road, Sialkot-Sambrial Road, Sialkot-Pasrur Road and Sialkot-Head Marala Road. An agreement was inked with a private party for ensuring the non-stop supply of CNG to these buses, which would be responsible for transportation of liquefied gas to Sialkot during time of non-availability of CNG. The buses would be treated as if the property of the government and all the protection of the government departments during operation would be readily available.

Some exporters of Sialkot said that the Punjab government had assured the Sialkot business community of all times availability of CNG for these buses. But, for the last one month, there was no CNG for these buses due to which these buses have been grounded, they added. Meanwhile, Sialkot business community has strongly criticized the Punjab government for not honouring its commitment to provide CNG, regularly due to which this project has temporarily been flopped, urging Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif to look into the matter.