PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the transport secretary to produce a detailed report until Mar 3 about a ban on the plying of rickshaws and taxicabs along the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit route.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz directed transport secretary Zakir Hussain to address all important points in the report, including commuting option in case of the suspension of the BRT service.
It issued directions during a hearing into the petition of rickshaw driver Alamzaib against the ban on rickshaws and taxicabs along the BRT route.
The petitioner’s lawyer contended that the government through a notification on July 20 had restricted route permits for rickshaws and cabs and placed a ban on their plying along the BRT route.
Court asks dept about commuting option in case of bus service suspension
He pointed out that the BRT route was spread over around 30km and covered all main areas of the provincial capital.
The lawyer contended that rickshaws or cabs were mostly utilised by patients, elderly people and students and therefore, ban on those modes of transport on main roads would inconvenience them all.
He added that the ban would also render thousands of rickshaw drivers jobless. The counsel said there were around 35,000 rickshaws registered here but the transport department wasn’t renewing their route permits.
Additional advocate general Syed Sikandar Hayat Shah informed the bench that three meetings had taken place between the transport department and representatives of Peshawar rickshaw and taxi drivers to resolve the issue.
He requested the bench to grant 14 more days for the amicable resolution of the issue.
On the court’s notice, the transport secretary also turned up and said the department intended to place a ban on the plying of rickshaws and cabs on the GT Road from Chamkani area to interior city, while they would be permitted in cantonment as well as on University Road up to Karkhano Bazaar.
He pointed out that the decision to ban those transport vehicles from Chamkani up to City area on the GT Road was taken to ease traffic congestion on that route.
The bench observed that the BRT buses had frequently been facing problems as sometimes, the buses developed technical faults and caught fire and sometimes the BRT staff members protest non-payment of salary.
The bench wondered if the BRT service gets suspended, then what alternate option will be available with passengers.
It asked the secretary that instead of taking decisions while sitting in offices, they (officials) should visit the relevant spots and observe the problems of people by themselves.
The secretary said banning those transport vehicles in certain areas was an administrative decision.
He added that the BRT buses had also begun plying on different feeder routes so as to minimise the problems of passengers.
The secretary said apart from the restricted route, those taxicabs and rickshaws were free to ply on other roads of the provincial capital.
The bench directed him to convene a meeting of the relevant officials and prepare a detailed report keeping in view all aspects of the issue.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2021