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LAHORE: The headcount of motorcycle-rickshaws has begun in the city in pursuance of the Punjab government plan to phase out the most dangerous but cheapest mode of transportation in many areas of the provincial capital.

The city traffic police had been entrusted with the task to suggest locations for carrying out enumeration, a Lahore Transport Company official said on Tuesday.

“The headcount will not carry any impact on the fate of motorcycle-rickshaws as endorsement of their enrollment has been lying pending with the cabinet committee since long,” said the official.

Interestingly, motorcycle-rickshaw does not exist as a public transport vehicle in the law books of the Punjab government. However, except for the DHA, Jail Road, The Mall and Canal Bank Road besides some parts of cantonment area, motorcycle-rickshaws continue to carry at least six people from one place to other for 12 to 14 hours a day.

In northern parts of Lahore, tongas had been the only mode of public transportation till late 1990s when noisy and smoke-emitting motorcycle-rickshaws started replacing the otherwise calm and pollution-free horse-driven coaches that used to ferry Lahorites, especially schoolchildren, in other parts of the metropolis too.

The motorcycle-rickshaws also speedily took over the place of rehras, the horse-driven goods carriers, in wholesale markets adjacent to Circular Road and the Walled City.

The almost non-existing public transport system in Lahore in the wake of its growing population and lack of interest on the part of the authorities concerned in this regard continued to create more room for the motorcycle-rickshaws.

Neither the Regional Transport Authority nor the Lahore Transport Company has any authentic data on the total number of Qingqi (‘Chand Gari’) in Lahore. The ‘Chand Gari’ drivers or owners do not have any association but are guided by the All Punjab Rickshaw Taxi Unions Federation office-bearers who put the tally at 100,000.

An official of the federation argued that some 200,000 people have directly or indirectly been earning their livelihood in Lahore through motorcycle-rickshaws.

“Most motorcycle-rickshaws are operated in two shifts, ranging from six to eight hours daily,” says Sagheer who ferries students of the Punjab University to and from Kalma Chowk to the New Campus in the morning shift.

The same three-wheeler is run between Samanabad Mor and Bund Road up to Bakar Mandi Stop in the evening by his cousin. Both have got the vehicle on installments from a dealer at Lytton Road.