PESHAWAR, Oct 8: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided in principle to ban the plying of public transport vehicles manufactured more than nine years ago on the capital city’s main roads besides refusing to renew their route permits.
However, a notification about when the ban will take effect is to be issued later, according to a transport department official.
The official said the decision on the ban was taken in a recent meeting chaired by transport minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
He said almost all roads in main Peshawar city had been declared ‘A’ class roads, where the plying of old model buses, min-buses and wagons would not be allowed.
He said the ban would affect around 700 mini-buses, 450 wagons and 400 buses plying the city roads as intra-city transport.
However, the official said the ban on renewal of the route permits would cause huge loss to the provincial kitty as for a vehicle, owner paid from Rs2,000 to Rs2,200 or more as annual renewal fee.
“These vehicles will remain on the roads unless the government takes transporters into confidence and manages to bring alternative vehicles on the roads as public transport,” he said.
The transport secretary couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.
However, Regional Transport Authority (RTA) secretary Naseem Bacha told Dawn that the decision had been taken after approval of the minister transport and it would be made public through advertisements in the media ‘very soon’.
“Through advertisements, we will invite interested parties to come forward introduce quality, new brand vehicles in order to remove all old, smoke emitting and worn-out buses from the roads,” he said.
The RTA secretary said the basic purpose of the decision was to provide quality transport to the citizens by paying the same fare so that they could reach their destinations within the minimum possible time.
He expressed the hope that both transporters and companies would come forward and bring vehicles on the roads as the government was encouraging them and that transporters had already informed the government about cooperation in this respect.
“We do not want to deprive people of jobs or create problems for them but the decades-old vehicles (1950 or 1960 models) can’t be allowed to ply the roads in the capital city any longer,” he said.
He said besides Khyber Road, the government had declared University Road, GT Road, all Hayatabad roads and all roads leading to Bannu, Mingora, Dir, Abbottabad, Dera Ismail Khan, Mardan and Malakand as ‘A’ class roads.
He said the decades’ old transport vehicles would be shifted for the time being to the outskirts of different districts, where the people faced shortage of transport.
He added that with the passage of time, people would get rid of the old buses and wagons.
“Initially, we stopped renewal of the route permits and in the second phase final date will be fixed for removal of the vehicles from the specified roads and in the meantime checking will be started,” he revealed.
Each vehicle, he said would be fined Rs250 for per day for failure to produce updated route permit and thus the transporters themselves would keep them off the roads.
However, transporters have rejected the decision as unjustified and impracticable.
Urban Transport Union, Peshawar president Khan Afridi told Dawn that the idea was floated in the past, too, but transporters rejected it because they could not purchase the vehicles costing Rs3 to Rs4 million each.
Mr Afridi said that the old model buses valued up to Rs0.4 million, mini-buses Rs0.14 million and wagon Rs1 million and the transporters could easily purchase them but vehicles identified by the government are very costly.
“In case the government takes stern action, we will have to move court or start protest,” he warned.
Another transporter said pleading anonymity that the government’s plan would be a failure because police would not cooperate to get rid of the old model vehicles.
“I can identity that there are many buses of very old model that have no route permits and still plying on the roads for about three decades in Peshawar and there is no check on them,” he said, adding that the relevant officials were taking their ‘share’ and avoid taking action.
The transporter said buses and mini-buses plying the city roads were of 1967-88 models but they had to operate them as companies had stopped manufacturing them.