300 Pakistani doctors return to Saudi after getting stuck in their country

This file photo taken on March 15, 2020 shows a view outside the emergency entrance of a hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

300 Pakistani doctors return to Saudi after getting stuck in their country

  • The medical professionals had taken leave from work before the COVID-19 outbreak and were visiting relatives in Pakistan
  • The remaining 200 doctors are scheduled to fly back to the Kingdom next week, says Pakistan’s envoy in Riyadh

ISLAMABAD: More than 300 Pakistani doctors, employed by Saudi hospitals, flew back to the Kingdom last week after getting stuck in their country for months due to the suspension of international flight operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz told Arab News on Friday.
The medical professionals had taken leave before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and were visiting relatives in Pakistan.
“Over 300 Pakistani medics and their families returned to Saudi Arabia last week,” the envoy informed. “The remaining 200 are scheduled to return during the second week of July.”
Ejaz said the embassy had raised the issue of Pakistani doctors with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 2020, soliciting permission for their return so they could help the Kingdom in its battle against the contagion.
“Pakistani doctors are working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic and constitute the backbone of the Kingdom’s COVID-19 response,” Dr. Asad Ullah Roomi, president of the Pakistan Doctors’ Group in Riyadh, told Arab News.
He added that the return of the Pakistani medical professionals would help Saudi Arabia deal with the new coronavirus.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Pakistan Embassy that made it possible for these doctors to return to the Kingdom and resume their duties,” he added.
Dr. Imran Chaudhry, resident physician at the Convalescence Hospital & PT Center, Al-Baha, was stuck in Lahore and recently returned to the Kingdom to rejoin his work.
He thanked the Saudi government for facilitating the return of the doctors, saying their presence in the country was vital to help COVID-19 patients.
“We wanted to rejoin our duty to serve the people in need, and the Saudi government turned it into a smooth process. The Kingdom even provided free tickets to those who could not make travel arrangements for their families,” he told Arab News.
“We had to wait for a long time, but we are back in Saudi Arabia now. At the moment, we have quarantined ourselves, but we will resume our work in the next few days,” Chaudhary said.


Peshawar to resume BRT service after getting clearance from Chinese experts

Updated 19 September 2020

Peshawar to resume BRT service after getting clearance from Chinese experts

  • PM Khan described the Bus Rapid Transit as ‘the best metro bus service available in Pakistan’ while inaugurating it in August
  • The facility was suspended within a few weeks after several buses caught fire while they were carrying passengers

PESHAWAR: A team of technical experts of a Chinese bus manufacturing company has arrived in the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to inspect the vehicles used by the city’s metro bus service after some of them caught fire recently, making commuters wonder if it was safe to travel on them.
Nearly a month after its inauguration, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service was indefinitely suspended on Wednesday after two more buses caught fire in the upscale Hayatabad locality of Peshawar.
According to the Rescue 1122 emergency service, there were no casualties and the fire that erupted in the air conditioning compartment was immediately extinguished.
“Yes, it was the fourth unfortunate incident in which two buses caught fire … Now a 20-member expert team of the bus manufacturing company has arrived from China to inspect our entire fleet and identify the causes of such incidents,” Muhammad Umair Khan, focal person for the BRT facility, told Arab News while declining to name the Chinese bus manufacturer.

In this undated photo, a metro bus can be seen in an upscale Peshawar neighborhood. The BRT facility was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan last month who called it "the best metro bus service available in Pakistan." (Picture courtesy: TransPeshawar)

Launched in October 2017 at an estimated cost of Rs49 billion, the 27-kilometer-long BRT corridor had to be completed within a span of six months. However, the project got delayed and missed at least four deadlines in 2018 and 2019.
The long-awaited service was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the second week of August who called it “the best metro bus service available in Pakistan.”
The provincial adviser on local government, Kamran Bangash, told Arab News that the BRT service was suspended on the recommendation of Chinese experts.
“The manufacturers of these buses have assured us that the service will be restored at the earliest. However, we cannot give any timeline and we will not take any risk until we get clearance from the experts,” he added.

Noorshad Wazir, a student at the University of Peshawar, told Arab News that the suspension of the service was creating problems for commuters, though he added that people were also scared to travel on theses buses.
Video footage of the latest fire incident was widely shared on social media, showing thick black smoke coming out of the bus last Wednesday.
Shortly thereafter, TransPeshawar, the company that operates the service, announced its suspension in “the best public interest” to ensure passenger safety.
Muhammad Nouman, who works as a laboratory technician in the city and frequently used the facility after its inauguration, said that the BRT was “mired in controversies such as poor management” from the outset.
“It saved many people from traffic congestion,” he said. “But now I seriously wonder if the project has provided us relief or compounded our troubles. I am also not sure if it will be safe for us to travel on these buses in the future.”
TransPeshawar has already acquired a fleet of 220 hybrid air-conditioned buses to cover the BRT corridor in the city.
“We will make sure to prevent such incidents in the future,” said the BRT focal person. “We will only resume the service after thoroughly checking all the buses and rectifying the problem.”