KARACHI: Goods transporters on Monday agreed to end their strike after holding “successful talks” with the Sindh government. The announcement was made separately by Sindh Transport Minister Awais Shah and representatives of the protesting transporters.
“We have got the goods transporters [to] agree to end their strike after successful dialogue,” Mr Shah told a press conference at the Mauripur truck stand after conclusion of the talks.
He made a significant announcement that the government would take back the authority of issuing driving licence from the traffic police as per demand of the transporters.
“The government will transfer the powers of issuing driving licences to the transport department from the traffic police after making necessary legislation in the Sindh Assembly,” said the minister.
The power to issue driving licence will be taken back from traffic police on transporters’ demand
He said he understood the issuance of driving licence should be made through the provincial transport authorities instead of traffic police.
Besides, he added, a committee had been formed to decide for fee structure vis-à-vis route permits and the least fee structure would be approved.
He said the government accepted most of the demands of the transporters.
The issues regarding fitness of vehicles, route permits and other related issues would be solved by the transport department.
“The economic conditions in the country do not allow us to afford such strikes that can only harm us economically,” said Mr Shah.
He, however, added that 90 per cent of the issues that the goods transporters were facing were related to the federal government.
“The biggest demand of the transporters is for [federal communication minister] Murad Saeed’s resignation,” he said.
He criticised the federal government that those who ruled the country had no experience of how to solve problems. “The Sindh government does not believe in complicating the conflicting issues. Our chief minister and Pakistan Peoples Party’s leadership have ordered us [to] resolve the problems involving transporters.”
He said some of the demands of the striking transporters had been accepted and the issues had been resolved forthwith while the remaining would soon be handled. “I just pray that the way our Sindh government feels for you and solves your issues, the federal government would have done the same.”
He said the prolonged strike by the goods transporters had caused losses of billions of rupees to the country’s economy, yet Sindh, and not the federal government, had accepted their demands.
“We would have accepted their demands in eight hours instead of eight days if our party was in power at the centre,” he claimed.
Mohammad Aslam of the United Goods Transporters Alliance (UGTA) said the provincial government had accepted their demands.
“We were striving for years to resolve our problems which have been accepted now,” he added.
The UGTA had given a strike call last week in protest over a heavy increase in penalties on traffic violations on highways and motorways.
The strike that lasted for more than a week caused heavy blockages at seaports. Trucks carrying edibles, essential commodities including medicines, fruits, meat and vegetables, etc, were halted as cargo supplies from the teeming metropolis to the rest of country remained suspended.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020