PESHAWAR, July 21: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to ban entry of about 3,000 auto-rickshaws of 1985 and older models into main city areas to ease traffic and check growing smoke pollution in the provincial metropolis.

The move came at a time when the government failed to implement its previous decision about dividing rickshaws into two shifts to reduce burden on roads and ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Regional Transport Authority secretary Naseem Ahmed Bacha told Dawn that the number of 1985 model might be over 3,000 which caused enormous pollution and banning such vehicles on city roads was the only way left with government. He said that movement of such rickshaws in city areas had been banned.

In order to check movement of old rickshaws, he said they would be painted with maroon colour so that they could be identified if found on city roads. He said that the owners should dispose them of as early as possible.

However, Rickshaw Drivers Union opposed complete ban on the vehicles and suggested that they be allowed to ply their rickshaws on periphery/link roads of Peshawar district.

Talking to this correspondent, the union president Haji Amanullah said that if the old model vehicles were banned thousands of drivers would be rendered jobless. He said that the most viable solution to the problem would be to keep old rickshaws away from main bazaars. “The government has accepted our demand for issuing route permits for new 4-stroke rickshaws,” he said and added that about 9,000 such rickshaws were without route permits so far in Peshawar.

Another official of the transport department said that presence of a large number of Qingqi rickshaws in the district was another reason for the traffic problems. He said that union leaders of Qingqi rickshaws would be taken into confidence to register them with transport department or keep them off the roads. He said that all illegal stands of such rickshaws would be closed.

The official said that the government wanted to get rid of frequent traffic problems in provincial metropolis. In this regard, he said that the transport minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, had directed the officials of the excise department to stop registration of new rickshaws.

He said that the minister had asked the Peshawar police to check movement of rickshaws and other vehicles which had been registered in other districts of the province so that they could be forced to leave for original districts.

Earlier, the Peshawar traffic police had started work on a plan to paint rickshaws in white and yellow for different shifts to control traffic on city roads. Under this plan, the yellow rickshaws could not be brought on roads during the time allocated for white rickshaws. However, the plan could not be fully implemented due to lack of interest on part of traffic police.

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