Goods transport strike- billions lost- exports halted

Goods transport strike entered into 5th day as deadlock persist

The goods transporters’ strike against new regulations and hefty increase of fines has entered the 5th day. Cargo supplies across the country came to a halt during the start of the week when transporters suspended their operations in protest over a hefty increase in fines.

The efforts of government team led by Governor Punjab Ch Sarwar –Jahangir Tareen and Governor Sindh have so far failed to resolve the issue and end the strike. The deadlock persists on the issue of hefty fines.

The transporters have complained that the decision of the Islamabad High Court over the matter was not being implemented. The government and the Motorway Police were refusing to follow the Axle Load SRO 2000, transporters complained. They demanded implementation of the IHC order with regard to the enforcement of the Axle Load Management.

Transporters said that they decided to halt the cargo supply as a last resort after their several appeals had failed to convince the authorities to take action over their concerns.
After transporters decision to continue their strike, cargo vehicles have been parked at roads resulting in suspension of transport of consignments from the Port Qasim and Karachi Port as well as supplies of vegetables, fruit and medicines to various parts of the country.

According to an estimate over 300,000 goods transport vehicles run across the country, while over 17,000 cargo vehicles run from Karachi to upcountry daily. The transporters had earlier announced an indefinite wheel jam strike of the goods transport until their demands being approved. 

 “The drivers are fined up-to Rs. 10,000 in the name of online verification of their licenses which are issued by government authorities,” said an official from All Pakistan Goods and Transporters.
The increase ranges from Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000 on various violations. The National Highway Authority (NHA), which operates under the Ministry of Communications, increased the fines by 10 times for the same rule violations.

”Right now, more than 7,500 heavy vehicles involved in goods transport are parked in Kathore and Hawkes bay truck stands,” said the official. Due to the three-day strike, the transportation of the goods remains suspended at Karachi’s ports.

They said they pay millions of rupees in taxes and play an important role in the overall economic activity of the country but they were never taken on board by the government when making the recent policy.
According to the statement issued by All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) the ongoing strike by the transport sector can adversely impact the exports significantly as there are no empty containers available in upcountry for exports. The statement further stated that exporters are missing shipment deadlines.

The garments and hosiery manufacturing association has said in its statement that exporters are facing difficulties to send their shipments. The government should intervene to end the strike otherwise daily loss to exports and businesses will go up to Rs 10 billion daily. The statement further said that industries and exporters are already facing losses of billions of rupees. The export target will be missed if strike continue. 

The federal government had recently approved revised rates of fines against traffic violations on highways. The penalty, which was Rs 750 on every kind of violation, is now being categorised. For speeding, the fine would be Rs1, 500 for motorbikes, Rs2,500 for cars, Rs5,000 for trucks, and Rs10,000 for public service vehicles.

On the other hand, the NHMP said that higher penalties on traffic violations were resulting in safer roads and lesser violations by the heavy traffic which most of the time caused fatal accidents.

                                          Khalid Bhatti

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