Punjab transporters refuse to restart inter-city bus operations despite govt orders

Despite orders from the provincial government, public transport owners in Punjab have refused to resume operations in the province, with bus stands wearing an empty look on Monday morning.

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According to Geo News, no drivers, conductors or any staff could be seen at the inter-city bus stands.

The Punjab government on Sunday had issued a notification outlining protocols for inter-city transport following an outcry by 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 paisas per kilometre as opposed to the previous 93 paisas.

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 that passengers will have to make use of masks and sanitisers before boarding buses.

Anyone suffering from a high fever or coughing constantly will not be allowed to travel on the bus.

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.

‘Cannot run public transport operations with a 90% deficit’

Earlier, the transport owners had refused to resume operations in Punjab until the provincial government had set up SOPs in collaboration with them and retract their decision to offer a 20% reduction in fares.

All Pakistan Public Transport Owners Federation (APPTOF) Chairperson Asmatullah Niazi had said the provincial government had not provided the federation written SOPs and the representatives of the leadership did not sit down to discuss and formulate guidelines hence they would not reopen public transport services.

The chairman of the federation had complained of the Punjab government’s earlier announcement of a reduction in fares by 20%.

Furthermore, he said he was informed that anyone over 50 years of age — be they a passenger, driver or conductor — would not be allowed on the bus.

“There’s a 20% cut in fares and now 50% fewer customers […] We have to pay toll taxes, traffic challans from the motorway police, bus stand charges, and various other expenses as well.

“We cannot run public transport operations with 90% deficit,” Niazi had added.

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