PESHAWAR: The transporters kept at least 50 per cent of the intra-city public service vehicles off the roads on Monday as National Highway and Motorway Police (NHMP) continued to remove CNG and LPG cylinders from the vehicles.

The campaign against CNG and LPG cylinders in public transport vehicles was launched on August 2. Several of the transporters decided to keep their vehicles off the road as NHMP declined to stop the campaign.

On the other hand, those transporters, who have switched their vehicles to petrol and diesel, have unilaterally increased fare by Rs50 on the inter-city routes from Peshawar.

According to officials, the campaign about complete ban on use of cylinders in public transport vehicles was launched on the advice of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to ensure safety of passengers.

Most of public transport operators keep vehicles off road

A notification directed removal of CNG and LPG cylinders from all public transport vehicles plying on intra and inter-city roads along with cancellation of route permit, if found in violation.

Besides, the school vans, which are private vehicles, in no case will be allowed using CNG as fuel and cylinders installed therein to ensure safety of children.

However, some of the motorway police officials, pleading anonymity, told Dawn that in addition to the cylinders removal campaign, awareness drive was also initiated to seek cooperation of transporters in completion of the task. They said that banners might be displayed at prominent places like toll plazas and bus stands regarding the implementation of the decision.

“We are also holding meetings with the transporters and for the purpose special teams have been deployed at different places in the limits of each sector,” said the officials. They said that the decision of Ogra was for the entire country and motorway police had to implement it in larger public interests.

However, transporters criticised the campaign against cylinders and demanded of Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the decision.

“We installed cylinders after approval and laboratory tests from the relevant departments but that all of a sudden decision caused serious unrest among our community,” Khan ZamanAfridi, the president of Sarhad Transport Owners Association, told this correspondent.

He said that the decision was taken at a time when people started leaving for homes to celebrate Eidul Azha with their families.

He said that at least 50 per cent of the transporters kept their vehicles off the road owing to the campaign against cylinders.

“The operators of inter-city public transport vehicles have started charging Rs50 as additional fare form each passenger on all routes to meet the expenses of petrol,” said Mr Afridi. He added that the increase in fare led to scuffles between the transporters and passengers on daily basis.

He said that the transporters in Peshawar also installed CNG cylinders in their vehicles but provincial government was yet to take action against them.

“The officials of transport department have invited us on Tuesday for negotiations on the issue. If we are forced to remove the cylinders, we will definitely increase the fare,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2019

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