PoK has no budget to run buses across LoC
3 October 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Muzaffarabad: Pakistanís foreign office has asked authorities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to resume bus services to the Line of Control (LoC) from Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot but officials here have reportedly expressed inability to follow the directive citing financial and administrative constraints. Pakistan and India launched the first bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar on April 7, 2005. The buses on either side carry passengers to terminals close to the LoC, from where the travellers cross the line on foot after completion of formalities. The buses bring passengers from across the LoC on their way back, the Dawn newspaper reported. The service was suspended after last yearís earthquake played havoc with road infrastructure in PoK. The Chakothi-Uri crossing point was reopened on November 9, 2005, but the passengers have to reach the makeshift bus terminal in Chakothi on their own. Passengers arriving from Kashmir or returning to PoK have to make their own arrangements for their travel from Chakothi. A bus service launched on June 20 between Rawalakot and Poonch also exists only on paper as the authorities have not been able to arrange a vehicle to shuttle between Rawalakot and Tetrinote, the last village on the Pakistan side of the LoC. On the inaugural day, a public transport vehicle was hired by local administration with a banner affixed on it, reading Rawalakot-Poonch bus service. Since then, the travellers have been making their own arrangements to reach Tetrinote. 'We donít have any vehicle to transport passengers from Rawalakot to the border village because we donít have any financial head to purchase a bus,' admitted Sardar Pervaiz Yaqub, an official designated for the Rawalakot-Poonch crossing point. He said that he had conveyed the problem to the foreign office in response to its directive that a bus should be purchased for the passengers. According to sources, initially the foreign office had promised to provide a bus for the Rawalakot- Poonch service but the commitment was not fulfilled. The sources said a prefabricated terminal had been built near the LoC for passengers of Rawalakot-Poonch service by the PoK Public Works Department through a Turkish firm at a cost of Rs 7.6 million. However, the terminal lacked infrastructure, mainly because of non- availability of funds. 'On the days of crossings, furnitures are brought from other places for the passengers,' the sources said. Mr Yaqub said there was no separate budget for the crossing point but the Government had been asked recently to provide funds for the purpose.