LAHORE – Despite tall claims of the Punjab government that yellow cabs will provide better transport facilities to the masses, almost none of the vehicles is available at taxi stands of Lahore instead these are fixed for personal use by majority of the owners, The Nation has learnt.

The Punjab Chief Minister in his various statements had repeatedly mentioned this point that the cabs besides providing honourable earning opportunities to unemployed youth will also be helpful in solving transport issues but the City’s taxi stands have almost no cabs delivered by the Punjab government.

The PML-N led provincial government has so far distributed 5,000 taxis all over the province and about 800 among them were delivered to the winners only in Lahore but question arose that when the vehicles are not available as cabs then where have all these gone?.

‘Go to Thokar Niaz Beg, City Terminal, Niazi Adda, General Bus Stand, Allama Iqbal Airport, Airport, Sherakot Bypass, Thoker Bypass and other places, you will find almost no taxi of yellow-black colour there’, said a taxi driver standing at Thoker Bypass.

The cabs were also totally absent when this scribe visited a taxi stand at Thoker Niaz Beg Chowk and at City Terminal.

The ‘flagship job creation programme of the Punjab government’ in the name of Yellow Cab Scheme for unemployed youth with the investment of huge amount of Rs 4.5 billion in budget is under criticism since the day of its start.  The provincial government had also made several changes in the process from enhancing the date of filing application to handover the keys of yellow cabs to winners.  The background discussions with the officials of the provincial government established the fact that the scheme was totally political motivated and have many faults.

‘Had the government invested the same money into the urban transport sector in any of the major cities of the province, the thousands of the daily commuters could have been provided best transport facilities’, said a senior official.

Another officer of Transport Department who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that though criteria of filing applications for cabs was fixed that only unemployed youth could apply for yellow cab but there was no perfect monitoring system and resultantly applicants from every class of the society applied and got taxis.

Also, he added, there is not any monitoring system that whether the winner is plying its vehicle as taxi or not. So, he said, some applicants belonging to families who could afford monthly instalments without plying vehicles as taxis got cabs in transparent computerised balloting. Interestingly, the official said, some cabs were even got by the winners living in posh localities of the City including Model Town, Gulberg, Canal View and other areas so ‘how you can expect that those people will ply their vehicles as cabs.’

More interesting fact is that about 2,050 women had applied for getting cabs and 70 among them had won taxis only in Lahore. But no female was driving her cab for earning her livelihood despite their commitment to the Punjab Chief Minister at the time of getting keys.