LAHORE: A large number of vehicles have been booked by political parties to provide transportation to voters from their homes to the polling station. This is despite a ban on such a practice by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Besides wagons and pick-ups, around 25,000 Qingqi rickshaws have been booked in Lahore alone.
According to the ECP code of conduct, arranging of transport by political parties to bring voters to the polling stations on Election Day is not allowed. Regardless, candidates have booked transportation.
Reaching polling stations on foot is much easier in urban constituencies, but those in rural areas are situated far from the homes of people. Therefore, candidates are providing transport to voters.
Due to ECP’s restrictions, voters will be dropped 200 metres away from the polling station and will have to walk the rest of the way.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has predicted rains in Lahore and other districts of Punjab. In this case, voters will face difficulty leaving their homes. Therefore, it will be more convenient to bring voters to polling stations in rickshaws, pickups and wagons.
A leader of the Qingqi Rickshaw Association told Express News that there are more than 51,000 such vehicles in the city and 25,000 rickshaws have been booked. Similarly, over 4,000 wagons and pickups have been booked.
The rent for one Qingqi rickshaw’s is between Rs1,000 and Rs1,500 per day without petrol, while the going rate for pickups/vans is between Rs2,500 and Rs3,000. A wagon’s rent amounts to between Rs3,500 and Rs4,000 without petrol.
In Lahore’s rural areas, there are many small towns and deras where voters have to travel two or three kilometres on foot to cast their votes.
Bringing women and the elderly to the polling station is going to be candidates’ first priority. Rana Muhammad Faisal, who booked Qingqi rickshaws for a candidate in Lahore, says it is never easy to bring voters to the polling station from their homes.
He adds Special teams have been formed for this task and it requires going door-to-door to lure the voters and put them on vans and rickshaws.
He further said that they will follow ECP’s Code of Conduct and no transport will enter the election commission’s boundaries. However, the elderly and differently-abled people will be facilitated as candidates have spent millions of rupees on transport.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2018.