LAHORE – A big exodus from the provincial metropolis begins as a four to five days long public holiday commence from today (Friday) for Eidul Fitr.

The city will get sleeping mode ahead of Eidul Fitr, as thousands of dwellers prepared to leave for their ancestral towns to celebrate the auspicious occasion with their dear ones. It is one of at least two occasions each year when this town witnesses a mass exodus bringing life to a virtual halt for quite a few days.

Majority of them who left Lahore on Thursday night included labour class, universities students, people and their families who do small businesses in the city and employees of the federal government departments who took one early leave from their offices. Although provincial government offices will remain open today and on Saturday, many officials and employees plan to leave their offices early to catch transport and they would likely to move their homes on Friday as well.

Thousands of people have already bought advance bus and train tickets to go to their hometowns to celebrate the festival with their families and they would likely to leave the City on Friday night or on Saturday. Despite that, rush has been started at public bus stands and Lahore railways station.

If the Eid comes off on August 20, the Eid holidays will extend by a day. Offices will resume on August 23, but August 25 and 26 are weekend for federal departments. Keeping this in mind, many officials and employees of federal government are taking casual leave on August 24 and of provincial governments on August 24 and 25 to make it 10-day holidays. Traders will brace last-minute rush at shops but they too would be off to their respective cities and villages after winding up their Eid sales that goes on peak on moon night.

Many of the mini restaurants and shops will be closed on Saturday night, providing a significant indication of things to come once the Eid moon is sighted. On Saturday, the traffic will also decrease at city roads.

Bus operators, as usual, has started fleecing people with extra money and are charging at least Rs100 to Rs200 from passengers who are travelers for more than 200km. However, the standard bus companies like Daewoo, Faisal Movers, Ali Travelers, Bilal Express, Niazi Express and others are charging according to the fare table. The charging from non-company buses, which are in majority, will become double on Saturday. 

Despite the delays and shortage of trains, the rush was also witnessed on Lahore Railways Station which will further increase on Friday (today). The railways management has already announced three special trains, tow for Karachi to Lahore and Rawalpindi and one from Karachi to Peshawar.

Railway authorities say that their regular schedule might collapse due to shortage of locomotives and huge pressure of home-bound passengers but they would try their best to make all possible arrangements for the passengers. Railways Police IG has issued direction to strict security measures at trains and railways stations to avoid any untoward incident.