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Sindh, Balochistan stick to public transport ban

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0ur Correspondent
May 19, 2020

LAHORE/KARACHI, PESHAWAR, QUETTA: The inter-city and intra-city public transport in the Punjab province resumed partially on Monday with the passengers and transporters violating the health...

Sindh, Balochistan stick to public transport ban
LAHORE/KARACHI, PESHAWAR, QUETTA: The 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. According to Geo News, 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 mustbe 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. However, the Sindh and Balochistan public transporters refused to resume the service.

In Balochistan, the government and transporters failed on Monday to reach an agreement on the SOPs for resumption of public transport. The transporters refused to reduce fares and the number of passengers at the same time. They said the ongoing lockdown had already aggravated their financial woes.

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

The government has empowered the commissioners to formulate the SOPs for resumption of transport. However, the two sides are yet to reach a consensus in this regard. Public transport remains suspended in Balochistan since the imposition of lockdown on March 24. The move was aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, a high-level meeting was held at the Chief Secretary’s Camp Office, Lahore on Monday in connection with implementation of the Supreme Court’s orders regarding opening of shopping malls and markets.

The meeting was attended by Provincial Ministers Dr Yasmin Rashid, Raja Basharat and Aslam Iqbal, Chief Secretary Punjab Jawwad Rafique Malik, Additional Chief Secretary Home Momin Agha, IG Shoaib Dastgir and other officers concerned.

The meeting decided that the Punjab government would ensure implementation of the Supreme Court’s orders in letter and spirit and issue new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for shopping malls and markets in the province in light of the apex court’s directions.

The participant deliberated on a proposal to open restaurants and food courts in the province. Speaking at the meeting, the chief secretary said senior citizens should avoid coming to markets for shopping. However, if they arrive, they must be attended on a priority basis.

Meanwhile, the train service will resume partially in the country from May 20. Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the government had decided to allow the Pakistan Railways to start its limited operations from May 20.

"Pakistan Railways will resume partial services on 30 trains, 15 up and 15 down, from May 20," said a press release by the Pakistan Railways. Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had given permission to partially resume train services from Wednesday on the condition that standard operation procedures (SOPs) were adhered to as the country battles the novel coronavirus.

"If the situation [of the coronavirus pandemic] remains stable during the current month, then all train services will be resumed across the country from June 1," Rashid said. Thousands of people have made advance bookings to travel home ahead of Eid, which would be celebrated later this month


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