Punjab’s public transport owners refuse to resume operations with unapproved SOPs, reduced fares

LAHORE: Public transport owners have refused to resume operations in Punjab until the provincial government sets up standard operating procedures (SOPs) in collaboration with them and takes back the decision to offer a 20% reduction in fares.
Addressing a press conference, All Pakistan Public Transport Owners Federation (APPTOF) Chairperson Asmatullah Niazi said the group was in touch with organisations across the country and that public transport in Punjab would not resume tomorrow (Monday) — as had been announced on Friday by the Punjab government.
The government of Punjab has not provided us with written SOPs yet, Niazi said, adding that until representatives of the leadership did not sit down to discuss and formulate the guidelines, they would not reopen the public transport services.
The chairman of the federation also 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 added.
A transporter’s association, meanwhile, also issued a statement, saying: “We will not run our buses unless you agree to our demands”.
The association said that they will not seat one customer every two seats, as directed by the government, and they will have customers occupy all the seats.
It said that transporters had “already suffered great losses due to the lockdown”.
Hafiz Jahangir, a spokesperson for the transporters, said they would keep operations suspended until they were taken into confidence by the government. “Instead of providing relief to the transporters, the government is asking for relief,” he said.
Jahangir said that the transporters were facing severe financial constraints. While they were ready to resume services, he added, they also demanded that SOPs be set beforehand.

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