Pakistani transporters protest new regulation, fines

In this undated photo, Pakistan Traders Protest Government Move to Monitor Transactions. (AN Photo)
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Updated 09 January 2020

Pakistani transporters protest new regulation, fines

  • Government officials say they are hopeful that the issue will soon be resolved
  • Pakistan spends about Rs50 billion for the upkeep of highways

KARACHI: A countrywide strike of transporters against a new regulation and imposition of heavy fines entered its third consecutive day on Wednesday, though government officials said they were hopeful of resolving the issue soon.

Pakistan’s communications ministry recently enforced a new axle load control regime to address the problem of overloading that can cause accidents or damage highways. However, goods transporters have been demanding the restoration of axle load law as per the National Highway Safety (NHS) Ordinance 2000.

Transporters say they have taken 400,000 vehicles off the road to protest the new regulation.

“Our drivers are fined up to Rs10,000 in the name of online verification of their licenses which are issued by government authorities. Besides, they are also fined for overloading vehicles despite the fact that the law dealing with the issue has not even been promulgated,” Imdad Hussain Naqvi of the All Pakistan Goods and Transporters Association told Arab News.

Due to the three-day strike, the transportation of imported and exported goods remains suspended at Karachi’s ports.

“The situation is very difficult as our ports are gradually chocking with inbound and outbound goods,” Tariq Haleem, Convener of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs, told Arab News.

Estimates suggest that transporters move Rs40 billion worth of goods across the country on a daily basis.

“The daily transportation schedule includes Rs20 billion worth of imports and Rs10 billion in exports. The interprovincial movement also stands at Rs10 billion per day,” Naqvi claimed.

He said the per day loss to transporters was around Rs10,000 per vehicle for upcountry movement while they incurred Rs5,000 for intercity movement.

When contacted by Arab News, Mehmood Moulvi, an adviser to the maritime ministry, said that the government was looking into the problem and it “will hopefully be resolved by Wednesday evening.”

The stakeholders say the government must come up with an amicable settlement of the issue that meets international standards and the treaties signed with neighboring countries.

“Pakistan suffers by nearly Rs50 billion on account of maintenance of highways every year due to overloading. The implementation of the axle load regime will be an important step toward the implementation of regional connectivity,” Aasim Siddiqui, Chairman of the All Pakistan Shipping Association (APSA), told Arab News.

“The regime is changing and under the agreements of regional connectivity Pakistani trucks cannot cross the borders because they are unsafe. We have to upgrade our fleet under the national freight and transportation policy which also demands proper licensing. Otherwise, only the Chinese will benefit from the changing regime,” Siddiqui added.


Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.