Successful negotiations: Goods transporters call off 11-day strike

Published: November 18, 2013
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Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS

Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. PHOTO: ZAFAR ASLAM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The main body of goods transporters in the country, United Goods Transporters’ Alliance (UGTA), has called off its 11-day strike after successful negotiations with government officials at the Governor House.

UGTA’s delegation, including the alliance’s chairperson Ghulam Yasin Khan and president Khalid Khan, called off the strike after finance minister Ishaq Dar, Ports and Shipping Minister Kamran Michael and Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon assured them that their demands will be met.

After the meeting, Dar told the media that UGTA’s demands have been accepted after thorough discussion and the transporters have agreed to call off their strike. Khalid informed The Express Tribune that Dar accepted their organisation demand to reduce the recently increased income tax on goods transport vehicles. The Federal Board of Revenue will issue a notification today [Monday] to confirm, he added.

“The finance minister has agreed to bring down the income tax to Rs2 per kilogramme of the laden weight while the Sindh AIG has taken our security as his personal responsibility,” said Khalid. “The finance minister has also promised us compensation money for the vehicles which were torched in riots after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.”

Traffic police fines will be halved while the motorway police will not issue multiple fines for the same violation, he revealed. The UGTA president was quick to point the finger at the government regarding the losses, reported worth Rs3 billion, incurred during the strike. “The government is responsible for the loss,” he stated. “We stopped our vehicles without any protest and did not block any roads. The government should not have let the situation reach this point. “

Making amends

After the meeting, the government officials along with Sindh Chief Secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana paid a visit to the Maripur truck stand where they received a warm welcome. Drivers and transporters danced in celebration when their chairperson announced that the strike was successful and their demands had been accepted. “Democratic governments always listen to their people,” Memon said while addressing the transporters.

Michael extended his congratulations to the transporters for successful dialogues with the government and assured them his full support in addressing the issues. “Labourers should be given their rights and I will go along with you and address your problems at the ports and transport routes,” said Michael as he addressed the crowd. The minister added that the strike has adversely affected the economy and transporters should contact the government before going on strikes.

Clogged traffic

After the UGTA announced the end of its strike, hundreds of trucks rushed towards the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), causing a major traffic jam on Mauripur Road and other roads linked to KPT. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded among the trucks while many were forced to take long alternative routes to avoid the traffic clog.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2013.

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