Finally the deadlock between the government and transporters broke as the transport owners announced to resume the intercity transport service in Punjab after successful negotiations with the government of Punjab. The decision was made after the government agreed to accept the major demands of the transporters and guided them about the SOPs to opt as precautionary measures in connection with Covid-19.
The participants of the meeting included the representatives of transporters headed by the Chairman All Pakistan public transport association Asmat Ullah Khan Niazi while the other side comprised of transport and industry ministers, secretary and some other senior officials.
Government agrees on 100 percent seat occupancy at 20 percent discounted fare on GT roads
Although Government had announced to resume the public transport a couple of days ago, the transport owners refused to carry on their services due to some serious concerns regarding the reduction in fares and occupancy issues. The government wanted to impose 50 percent occupancy with an additional 20 percent reduction in fares whereas the transporters were not ready to start the operation on these terms and conditions. They were of the view that implementation of the said conditions would add to their financial hardships after the crisis that they had been suffering from due to strict observation of around 2 months long lock down. They had urged the government to prevent the transport sector from breathing its last that had already reached at the verge of destruction due to Government’s illogical and impractical SOPs.
Talking to the media Asmat Ullah confirmed that the government had agreed and acknowledged to start the transport operation with 100 percent seat occupancy accompanied by mandatory precautionary measures regarding Covid-19.
“We may charge passengers extra fare to compensate our loss in the form of 50 percent occupancy on Motorways”, said Transporters
He further added that separate terms were agreed for transportation on GT roads and motorways. For GT roads it was decided that full seat occupancy along with 20 percent discounted fare would be availed whereas 50 percent seat occupancy with no discounted fare would be observed on motorways. However they hinted to charge extra fare (on motorways) so as to compensate their loss in the form of 50 percent seat occupancy.
Asad Gilani (Punjab Transport Secretary) negated the restriction of 50 percent seat occupancy claiming that the department had not imposed any such restriction and urged the transporters to operate at their full seat capacity with 20 percent discounted fare however they (transporters) did not agree on this point. He further added that intercity public transport operation was partially resumed on Monday however the number of passengers was too small and the rush of people was expected to increase from Thursday.
CM Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar shared that the Government of Punjab allowed the intercity transport to run on roads to accommodate the people so that they might travel to their home towns and celebrate the Eid festival with their near and dear ones. He shared his narrative while discussing various transport related matters with the Transport Minister of Punjab (Sardar Jahanzaib Khan Khichi) in CM office on Wednesday. He further said that the transporters would have to follow the SOPs to ensure the safety of the citizens however the issues of transporters would also be amicably resolved on priority.