With overloaded trucks and trailers affecting highways across the country, a parliamentary sub-panel on communications was informed on Friday that there was no official weigh scale for trucks in the federal capital while the one in Peshawar was no operational. Hence, trucks cannot be weighed between the two key trade transit points.
This was disclosed during a meeting of the sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Communications which met in the Parliament House on Friday with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senator Fida Muhammad in the chair.
During the meeting, the issue of weigh stations on highways was discussed.
The committee was told that there are a total of 161 weigh stations located along highways all over Pakistan.
Muhammad asked about the status of weigh stations on highways between Islamabad and Peshawar.
He was told that the weigh station in the federal capital was demolished when the metro bus service was being built between the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Even though the metro bus service in the twin cities started functioning from June 2015 and the government subsequently even launched an extension project to link the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA) to the mass transit project, the weigh scale could not be rebuilt.
On the other hand, the weigh scale in Peshawar exists but it was not operational.
The committee was told that in 2018, it was officially notified that vehicles, especially trucks, which ply the highways of the country, must not be overloaded.
However, despite the absence of weighing scales, the committee was told that strict measures were being taken to ensure that transporters follow regulations.
Further, the committee was told that vehicle tampering is another major issue which the National Highway Authority (NHA) faces in regulating vehicles.
Senators suggested the need for introducing incentives for transporters to follow the rules.
Committee convener Muhammad also took notice of the depressions which have developed on certain highways and roads because overloaded trucks and buses have been plying on it.
He stressed the need to affix responsibility and to regulate contractors so that quality highways are constructed and such issues do not surface.
The committee was assured that the issue will be investigated.
Deliberating over details of revenue collected from toll plazas on highways and motorways and maintenance of the historic highway, the Grand Trunk (GT) Road between Lahore and Islamabad, the sub-committee directed highway authority to submit details of the revenue collected over the past two years.
The committee was told that the revenue generated from collecting toll tax is primarily used for maintaining roads and highways. However, when people neglect or refuse to pay the toll, it can become a major impediment in the maintenance of highways.
The committee stressed the need for introducing legislation to resolve this issue.
The committee further reviewed details regarding the collection of toll tax and maintenance of GT Road and various issues pertaining to it.
Muhammad was of the view that the committee, along with the ministry must strive to provide relief to the public. He stressed the need for transparency and said that it was important that all efforts lead to the truth while responsibility must be affixed so that justice can be done and the guilty are punished, he added.
Members of the committee endorsed his views.
The meeting was attended by independent Senator Yousaf Badini, National Party (NP) Senator Dr Ashok Kumar, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Senator Mian Ateeq Sheikh and senior officers of the federal communications ministry, the NHA and other concerned officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2019.