Coronavirus Lockdown: Unlike Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan carry on public transport ban

Public transporters have refused to resume transport services in Sindh and Balochistan after inter-city and intra-city public transport resumed partially in Punjab on Monday.

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In Balochistan, the government and transporters failed to reach an agreement on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the resumption of public transport. The transporters also refused to reduce fares and the number of passengers at the same time, saying the ongoing lockdown had already aggravated their financial woes.

On the other hand, the provincial government continues to insist on the reduction of fares in accordance with the drop in prices of petroleum products.

The government has empowered the commissioners to formulate the SOPs for the resumption of transport; however, the two sides are yet to reach a consensus in this regard.

Public transport has remained suspended in Balochistan since the imposition of lockdown on March 24 with the move aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the other hand, inter-city and intra-city public transport in the Punjab province resumed partially on Monday with the passengers and transporters violating the health protocols set by the government.

From Lahore to other cities, wagons and coasters became operational in addition to the online cab service in Lahore.

Despite orders from the provincial government, the public transporters refused to resume operations on Monday, with the bus stands wearing a deserted look.

No drivers, conductors or any staff could be seen at the inter-city bus stands.

The Punjab government Sunday had issued a notification outlining protocols for the inter-city transport following an outcry by the transport owners over lack of collaboration on SOPs and reduced fares announced by the provincial government.

The notification contains directives for owners of buses and minibuses, terminals, passengers, drivers and conductors.

According to the notification, air-conditioned buses will have a 20% reduced fare, whereas non-air-conditioned buses will charge 78 paisa per kilometer as opposed to the previous 93 paisa.

Passengers boarding and dismounting buses must observe social distancing, it said. Buses must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every trip and the bus terminal will have to be sprayed with chlorine frequently.

The notification also said the passengers would have to use masks and sanitizers before boarding buses. Anyone suffering from a high fever or coughing constantly will not be allowed to board.

Passengers aged 65 and above will be seated alone with the seat next to them kept vacant. Drivers and conductors will have to get their temperature checked before every journey.

Contrary to the Punjab province, full public transport service in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province resumed on Monday.

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