ISLAMABAD: Before bowing out on May 31, the federal cabinet of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in its farewell meeting, approved the National Transport Policy that seeks to upgrade and overhaul the country’s transport modes — including air, land, water, as well as urban systems.

Covering both travel and logistics, the policy envisages the overall development of the transport sector in the mid to long-term with the objective of meeting growing challenges as Pakistan hopes to make its jump into the top 25 global economies by 2025 and top 10 by 2047.

It talks about rail, air, trucking, mass transit, pipeline network, urban transport, maritime business etc. Sectoral master plans for each sector would flow out in line with the policy.

“The price of transport services shall reflect their true costs, including environmental and social externalities. Taxes, levies and excise duties on procurement, usage and decommissioning of transport assets shall be reviewed in light of this principle”, said the policy developed by a task force led by the Planning Commission’s member infrastructure and comprising experts from the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and other development partners.

The policy envisages that tariffs will be, as much as possible, set to reflect the real costs of the transport sector on a level playing field, and will promote sustainable transport modes, vehicles, fuels, and infrastructure. “Transport subsidies, wherever provided, shall be set on a transparent basis, and targeted to those who need them the most”, it added.

The urban transport will be treated as a single integrated system and planned in accordance to the hierarchy of modes, including public transport, private transport, non-motorized transport, and freight transport. Individual urban transport master plans will be developed for all major cities in accordance with the principles of the transit oriented design — looking at a 10-year timeframe with a 20-year horizon.

To implement the policy, a cabinet committee on transport may be constituted to be chaired by the prime minister, and will include the ministers for com­munications, maritime affairs, railways, aviation, petro­leum, inter-provin­cial coordina­tion, planning, fina­nce, and representatives of all the provinces as well as other territories.

The policy said railway operation in Pakistan will be organised to become more commercially viable and will remain in the public sector.

Dedicated inter-modal terminals for passengers will be provided within and near urban areas to connecting public transport. New technology will be adopted to enhance ease of passenger travel and freight connectivity.

Air transport will also be liberalised in accordance with the open skies policy on a reciprocal basis to stimulate new entrants establishing new routes and increasing the number of flights to and from Pakistan, without compromising national interests.

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be restructured, separating its regulatory and service provision responsibilities. The CAA may enter suitable public-private partnerships for operation, management and development of airports. Pakistan International Airlines will be restructured and rescaled to become financially viable.

Maritime sector shall be geared to become a major engine of growth through its support and facilitation of international trade. Karachi and Port Qasim ports will serve as the primary international gateway ports for all types of commodity shipments, with Gwadar Port balancing national trade opportunities, transhipment and regional transit.

Third-party shipping access and provision of maritime shipping services will be supported. Public sector shipping lines will continue to address strategic trade arrangements. An independent regulator will be established as national maritime authority.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2018