The Supreme Council of All Pakistan Transporters (SCAPT), the apex body of cargo and passenger vehicles owners in the country, has announced to go on a countrywide strike from August 27 if their demands were not met.
“We have given the government time till August 23 to meet our demands. If they fail to do so, the transport fraternity will go on wheel-jam strike while goods owners will go on shutter-down strike from August 27,” said SCAPT chairperson, Capt (retd) Asif Mehmood. He was speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club along with representatives of the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association and other members of SCAPT.
Mehmood said that they were tired of writing to the relevant authorities regarding their problems would now go on strike and halt all activities in the country. “We will block all the roads with our vehicles for an indefinite period of time and the government will be responsible,” said Mehmood.
Among the major issues being faced by transporters, the most pressing were the recent increase in fuel prices, imposition of 600 per cent income tax on transport, provision of security to transport vehicles on terminals and roads and compensation to the transporters whose vehicles were torched in the riots of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
They also demanded that the government repair the roads and highways of Balochistan. “The thoroughfares in the region are not fit to be called roads. Under the present conditions, the government must stop taking toll tax from the transporters on the roads of Balochistan,” said Mehmood.
They also expressed displeasure regarding the role and conduct of the motorway police and appealed to the government to stop the motorway police from unnecessary harassment of drivers.
They asked the government to issue armed licenses to the long-route vehicles’ drivers and allow them to carry the licensed weapons and for exemption from section 144.
All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association president, Aslam Niazi, also spoke at the occasion and demanded that the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) include kidnapping and theft under their insurance cover.
Niazi said that the transporters were the highest tax payers in the country but the recent increase in the income tax on transporters showed that the government intended to meet all its expenses from transport tax. “The recent increase in the fuel prices will be covered with increase in transport fares which will eventually affect the general public,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2013.