LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has allowed resumption of inter-district public transport with a 20% cut in fare ahead of Eidul Fitr.
The chief minister made the announcement after presiding over a video-link meeting on Saturday of the cabinet committee formed to deal with coronavirus. He said the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the virus were being eased to provide relief to the citizens and people attached to the transport sector.
He highlighted that the government had not only reduced petroleum prices substantially but also taken measures to transfer its benefit to the people by reducing the fare.
He also announced that the government had decided to allow online ride-sharing and transport services to operate. However, public transport and ride-sharing services will have to ensure the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) evolved in this regard.
Buzdar highlighted that wearing face masks had been made mandatory for passengers, drivers, and conductors. Keeping sanitisers in buses will be compulsory, while the necessary distance will be maintained between the passengers.
He said that rich people were traveling on their vehicles whereas transport was closed for the poor, which had multiplied their difficulties. The chief minister said that the government, while realising the difficulties of the common people, had decided to open intercity and inter-district transport service and recommendations of a steering committee had been approved in this regard.
He said the SOPs evolved for maintaining social distance would also be observed at the bus stands. Buses will be disinfected after reaching their destination.
Buzdar announced that the Punjab government had also decided to open the big shopping malls under the SOPs.
Powerlooms have also been given permission to work. However, the Punjab Industries Department will have to take measures to ensure the implementation of the SOPs in this regard.
The provincial government has also decided to allow communal services in churches on Sunday under the SOPs.
The chief minister underscored that the coronavirus threat was not over yet and there was a need to be more careful.
He said the government had to safeguard the citizen from coronavirus as well as hunger.
He appealed to the citizens to show responsibility.
Meanwhile, the number of novel coronavirus patients in Punjab reached 14,201. The provincial government has conducted 158,000 tests so far, including 5,953 during the last 24 hours. Home quarantine has already been allowed in the province.
Buzdar called for evolving a strategy for Jumatul Wada, Youm Al-Quds, and Eid. The final plan in this regard will be presented next week.
The meeting reviewed the latest situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic, facilities being provided to the patients in the hospitals, and the implementation of the SOPs in markets after easing of the lockdown.
Provincial Ministers Raja Basharat, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, the chief secretary, IGP, SMBR, ACS (home), commissioner Lahore division, secretaries of finance, specialised healthcare, and medical education, primary and secondary healthcare, industry and information departments and other officers concerned attended the meeting, while Punjab Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht, military officials, secretary local government, CEO of Urban Unit, DG of PDMA, secretaries of P&D, labour, agriculture and food departments and chairperson of the PITB participated in the meeting through video link.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2020.