Islamabad: A modern bus service costing Rs30 billion (Dh2 billion) was inaugurated on Sunday in Lahore, capital of Pakistan’s most popular Punjab province, while police foiled an attempt by protesting doctors of government hospitals in the provincial metropolis to disrupt the ceremony.
Chief of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, inaugurated the Metro Bus Service, a project completed with Turkish assistance and investment in 11 months.
Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, highlighted the importance of providing a modern, comfortable means of transportation in the city of more than 10 million for which a special 27-kilometre track was built along with facilities and structures.
Political opponents of the PML-N including PML-Q leader and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervai Elahi accused Shahbaz of squandering huge resources on one project. Reports said people at large welcomed the service, the first of its kind in the country.
A bus carrying PML-N chief, provincial chief minister, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bekir Bozdag, and foreign diplomats made an inaugural run amid a fanfare including a dance performance and music in traditional Punjabi dress.
To celebrate, Shahbaz Sharif gave a cash prize of Rs10 million among labourers, who worked day and night on the project, which was launched a few months before the general elections expected in May.
Reports said the Punjab police cracked down on members of the Young Doctors Association trying to reach the inauguration of the bus service as part of their protest campaign over salaries.
Television channels showed police charging the doctors with batons. Several doctors were reportedly picked up by police and taken away in a prison van.