Transporters take 2,000 public vehicles off roads

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KARACHI – Reacting to the recent increase in Petrol Oil and Lubricants (POL) prices, Karachi-based transporters have taken at least 2,000 public buses and coaches off the roads, sources have informed Pakistan Today.
Moreover, the Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) has also convened an emergency meeting of all the stakeholders on Monday to announce a wheel-jam strike, discuss the government’s decision and chalk out future course of action. Transporters said that if the government fails to address their grievances, they would be left with no other option but to raise the fares by at least Rs 3 per passenger.
They said that after announcing the strike on Monday, a formal process of negotiation would commence between the KTI and the Sindh Transport Department, followed by a meeting with Transport Minister Akhtar Jadoon. Sources said that the transporters would exert extra pressure on the Sindh government with their strike call so as to ensure the release of at least Rs 12 million as compensation for the public vehicles that were torched or damaged in December 2009 as a result of the Ashura blast and for the repeated impoundment of vehicles by the police in the past few years.
Transporters said that the recent raise of some Rs 10 per litre in diesel prices had adversely affected the transport business since the vehicle owners were paying Rs 1,000 more for one trip. Besides, prices of all commodities would be doubled following the hike in diesel prices, burdening the already underprivileged citizens, they added.
KTI General Secretary Mehmood Khan Afridi said, “At least 2,000 public vehicles, including minibuses and coaches, have been taken off the roads after the rise in POL products by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.” He asserted this increase was unacceptable. “The current hike is aimed at closing down the transport business in the metropolis since it has become almost impossible for the transporters to run their businesses.”
There are a total of 18,000 public vehicles plying the roads – comprising 3,000 buses; 8,000 minibuses and 7,000 coaches – however, the increase in POL prices has increased the expenses by at least Rs 500 on 50 litres of diesel, he added. A couple of days ago, the price of diesel was raised by at least Rs 8 per litre; however, it was slashed by 50 percent after strong opposition by the coalition partners of the government, particularly the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, he said.
“Transporters were assured that POL prices would not be increased in the immediate future, but the authorities concerned have deviated from their stance. A meeting of all the stakeholders would be held on Monday to chalk out the future line of action,” he added.

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