Toll tax exemption for MNAs restored

Senator grills NHA over qualifying companies for contracts without adequate requirements


APP September 13, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

The Senate Standing Committee on Communications was told on Monday that the members of the National Assembly have been exempted from toll tax on motorways and highways.

The panel was told that the exemptions for the parliamentarians had been abolished some time ago but now the immunity has been restored.

The meeting, which was presided over by the committee’s chairman Senator Prince Omar Ahmadzai, was briefed by the chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) about the damages caused to the roads due to the recent rains and floods in Balochistan, which never experienced such heavy rains and floods.

The committee also reviewed the issue of the construction of the Hyderabad-Sukkur Motorway in detail.

During the meeting, Senator Saifullah Abro said the recent increase in toll tax on motorways from Rs160 to over Rs1,000 had made it impossible for a poor man to travel on a highway. “A poor man could not even afford a cup of tea in the service area on the highway,” he added.

The NHA officials responded that all the concession agreements about toll fees included an annual increase of 10 per cent while 8 per cent would be increased on M-9 and Sialkot Motorway.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha said the motorways or highways on which the toll tax was collected should be repaired with the same tax money.

Driving a vehicle on M-2 was a difficult task as it needed maintenance which was not done even after collecting billions of rupees in the name of toll tax on it.

The committee asked for the details of the contracts, repair expenses and income of the toll plazas.

Senator Danesh Kumar said the work on 2KMs on M-8 was stopped, and the matter was also raised in every meeting but to no avail. At this, NHA’s chairman said that M-8 would be activated within the next 48 hours.

IG National Highways and Motorway Police Khalid Mahmood informed the committee that the accident on M-9 occurred due to an animal and fencing around M-9 was not possible as fences could only be installed on motorways, while M-9 was neither a highway nor a superhighway.

The IG further said the enforcement was done on 100 KMs in Balochistan and highway police were being formed. The focus is also on N-25 and N-10 and the recruitment process was ongoing. To which, Senator Kamil Ali Agha said as per the international traffic rules, highways and motorways were always fenced.

Chairman NHA said there were difficulties in fencing Hyderabad-Karachi Motorways as people steal the fences. "FIRs have also been registered in this regard and the matter was raised with the local police leave about the fence thieves,” he said.

The committee also reviewed the issue of the construction of the Hyderabad-Sukkur Motorway in detail.

It was told that all the processes had been completed, an Italian company had participated in the bidding, and information had also been obtained from the Italian government and the Embassy of Pakistan in Italy in this regard.

The total length of the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway was 522 KM, of which 1216 KM was completed and 306 KM long M-6 was to be connected with it. 15 interchanges, 10 service areas, 12 rest areas, six flyovers and a 61 KM meter service road would also be constructed on it. M-6 would pass through seven districts of Sukkur, Khairpur, Nowshera Feroze, Benazirabad, Matiari, Hyderabad, and Jamshoro.

On this, Senator Saifullah Abro said a company was first disqualified for not fulfilling the requirements but it was re-qualified later. "This is beyond our understanding and details about this company should be furnished before the committee."

To a question of Senator Saifullah Abro, the committee was told that Hakla DI Khan Motorway had 11 interchanges, and 22 toll plazas which had been with Frontier Works Organization since July 2022.

The motorway was inaugurated in January and a contract of Rs75 million per month was awarded for three months. From April 10 to July General Manager NHA was in charge of it and Rs65 million per month income was being earned.

The committee was also informed about the planting of trees along highways and motorways and that about 840,352 trees had been planted on Lahore Motorway to Abdul Hakeem, Pindi Bhatian and Multan-Sukkur Motorway.

Similarly, 65,000 trees were planted on Sukkur to Jackabad N-65, 84,000 trees on Hazara Motorway, 600,000 trees from Islamabad to Lahore, and about 400,000 trees on Karachi to Hyderabad M-9 Motorway.

The matter of public importance raised by Senator Hidayatullah in the Senate meeting held on August 17 regarding the traffic accident due to lack of fencing on Sukkur Multan Motorway, and briefing on the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway project were also reviewed in detail.

The meeting was attended by Senators Saifullah Abro, Kamil Ali Agha, Dinesh Kumar, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Muhammad Akram, Ahmed Khan and Hidayatullah, Secretary and Chairman NHA, Additional Secretary NHA and IG Motorway Police. 

COMMENTS (2)

Adnan Aziz | 3 weeks ago | Reply

Totally unfair This though should be always expected. The Law Makers making lawas for their own benefits at the cost of poor man.

Asif | 3 weeks ago | Reply

Mazay he Mazay

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