LAHORE: Motorists have rejected increase in the Lahore Ring Road’s toll tax, and demanded the government immediately withdraw it since the commoners are already in troubles due to massive price hike.

“The government should have avoided imposing flat toll rates and instead charged interchange to interchange like the motorways,” said Burhan, a frequent traveler on Ring Road.

The 62-kilometre Lahore Ring Road, which connects Babu Sabu and Raiwind Road, encircles the provincial metropolis providing a hassle-free passage to motorists. When it opened in 2012, the government used to charge no toll. From fiscal year 2016-17, it started charging toll fee on four-wheel vehicles - Rs20 on car/jeep, Rs40 each on hiace wagons and mini buses, and Rs100, Rs120 and Rs200 on bus, loader/pickup and truck. Similarly, the authority enhanced the toll in 2017-18 fiscal year, fixing Rs35, Rs70, Rs175, Rs210 and Rs350 on car/jeep, hiace wagon, mini bus, bus, loader/pickup and truck respectively.

“After two years, we have increased the toll for all type of vehicles for the year 2019-20. And this is Rs45 on car/jeep, Rs90 hiace wagon and mini bus and Rs230, Rs270 and Rs450 for bus, loader/pickup and truck respectively,” clarifies a senior LRRA official.

“The new toll rates would remain applicable till December 21, 2021,” he added. “After two years, we have increased toll rate less than 10 per cent. We, under the agreement, are liable to increase this since the project was completed on Build, Operate and Transfer basis and there was no funding from the government in this regard. So the contractor, under the agreement, is required to recover cost of the project through toll,”

He said if someone wanted to avoid toll tax, they could use the service lane constructed on both sides of the ring road. However, he admitted that the LRRA should have thought about imposition of the interchange-wise toll tax instead of the flat rates.

The new rates have not been received well in truck operators.

All Pakistan Truck Association chief Yasir Naseer criticized the government for imposing heavy toll and fines on truckers. “Besides increasing Ring Road toll, they (the government) have increased fines on traffic violations on motorways up to 1,000 percent and over 150 percent on highways. Side by aside they also increased toll tax by over 100 per cent,” he deplored.

APPROVED: The Provincial Development Working Party approved on Tuesday 10 development schemes for over Rs10 billion.

The schemes were approved in the 30th meeting of the PDWP of current fiscal year 2019-20, presided over by P&D Board Chairman Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh.

The approved schemes are: construction of Building of Ghazi University in DG Khan at the cost for over Rs1.043 billion; establishment of Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture, Multan (phase-II, revised) for over Rs1.746 billion; reconstruction of Pipal House, A-Block, for Rs433.915 million; construction of MPA Hostel (phase-II), Lahore, for Rs3.6 billion; consultancy services for third party monitoring and validation for disaster&climate resilience improvement project (DCRIP PC-II) for Rs27.148 million; DCRIP – enhancing resilience against sub surface/seepage underneath Nawabpur Flood Bund for Rs483.730 million; DCRIP – enhancing resilience against sub surface flow/seepage underneath LMB Taunsa Barrage for Rs1.6437 billion; protecting village Kund Sargana, its surrounding abadies and other infrastructure of Tehsil Kabirwala from erosive action of the River Ravi for Rs277.439 million; land acquisition for establishment of sewage treatment plant (Sialkot) under the Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme for Rs399.844 million, and the land acquisition for sewage treatment plant, Sahiwal, under Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Programme for Rs523.463 million.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2019