LAHORE: After around two-month-long lockdown, transport owners on Wednesday announced resuming the intercity transport service in the province after the government accepted most of their demands and clarified some of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and precautionary measures related to Covid-19 pandemic.
The transport owners made the announcement after a meeting with the transport and industry ministers, secretary and other senior officials.
“The intercity transport in all cities of Punjab has now resumed its operation after we made a formal announcement in this regard. The passengers rush will start from Thursday (today) at various terminals,” All Pakistan Public Transport Owners Federation Chairman Asmatullah Niazi told Dawn.
Talking about the decisions taken during the meeting, he said the transporters had been allowed to run the buses with 100 per cent occupancy (of seats) with certain precautionary measures related to Covid-19.
No discounted fares on motorways
He said it was agreed at the meeting that the passengers would be given 20pc discount in fares on all GT Road routes. However, there would be no discount for those travelling via motorways, he added.
“On such [motorways] routes, the rules and regulations of the federal government apply. So under these regulations, we will have to run buses with 50pc occupancy. We may even charge more than the actual fares as we will suffer loss if we charge the normal fares,” he explained.
The transporters had earlier on Monday refused to resume the operation under the SOPs, disappointing many who reached bus terminals at Badami Bagh, Yateem Khana and Jinnah Terminal (near Thokar Niaz Beg) to travel to their destinations.
However, Punjab Transport Secretary Asad Gilani explained the department didn’t impose any restriction on running buses with 50pc occupancy.
“We had already told them to go seat by seat on 20pc discount in fare. But the transport owners did not agree,” he claimed.
He said a partial resumption of the intercity public transport had already begun on Monday. But there was only a small number of passengers at the bus terminals.
CM: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has said the decision of allowing inter-city transport has been made in the larger public interest as people visit their native places on Eid.
Mr Buzdar was speaking to Punjab transport minister Jehnanzeb Khichi, who called on him at chief minister’s office on Wednesday.
They reviewed different matters pertaining to the transport owners.
The chief minister said the transport owners should be made to follow the SOPs because passengers’ safety was supreme.
He said the transporters’ issues would be amicably resolved because the government wanted to run the transport while ensuring the safety of the passengers from coronavirus.
Mr Khichi briefed the chief minister about transport owners’ issues.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020