RAWALPINDI, Sept 24: The Regional Transport Authority (RTA) on Tuesday removed Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) cylinders from 600 intercity buses and wagons, creating unrest among the transporters and CNG owners who warned of protest.
After achieving 100 per cent target of removing the cylinders from intercity vehicles, the RTA will turn to the transport plying between Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The government had set last Sunday as deadline for removal of the cylinders and after its passage the RTA officials visited private and general bus stand near Soan river and launched their campaign.
“The removal of CNG cylinders from intercity transport will take at least a week and then the RTA and traffic police will launch action against the public transport in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” the RTA secretary Awais Manzoor Tarrar told Dawn.
He said the RTA, however, gave extra time to the school and college wagons to remove their CNG cylinders voluntarily otherwise the RTA would use force.
Replying to a question, he said the transporters running their vehicles on CNG were allowed to charge the fare according to petrol after gas loadshedding. “We had issued two fare lists based on CNG and petrol prices,” the RTA secretary said.
Mohammad Ajmal, a transporter at Soan Bus Stand, said that to discuss the situation emanating from the removal of cylinders, they had called a meeting of provincial union of transporters to decide future course.
He said that the government should also remove the CNG from private cars and issued new fare list based on current price of petrol and diesel otherwise, the transporters would start protests on the roads.
On the other hand, Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, Chairman of Supreme Council of All Pakistan CNG Association, said that the campaign against CNG cylinders in commercial vehicles was illegal.
Transport authority and police should abstain from removing the cylinders, he said and added that the government should immediately intervene and safeguard the investments worth billions by one million transporters.
He said that there was no law in the country which allows removal of CNG cylinders from commercial vehicles.
He claimed that many drivers of public transport had taken their vehicles off the road fearing action which had created transport crisis in many cities.
He said that CNG association had spent millions of rupees on establishing over 100 workshops in the country where all the vehicles converted on CNG could be checked within six months.
The workshops issued certificate too but after the removal of the cylinders they lost their utility.
Frequent changes in rules had created unrest and uncertainty among the transporters, Mr Paracha said adding, first the government ordered removal of cylinders fitted beneath the passengers’ seat but later on they disallowed them in the public transport.