The goods transporters are on an indefinite strike. Their strike has entered into fifth (5) day. The deadlock still persists between the transporters and the government. The transport strike is causing billions of rupees loss to exporters- importers and businessmen. The strike has halted the cargo transportation from factories to ports and from ports to factories and warehouses. The transportation of vegetables-fruits and other food items have also been badly affected by this strike.
If the strike is going to continue for some days-than it will start to impact the exports on much wider scale on daily basis. In a statement- Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA) Chairman Jawed Bilwani lamented that the strike was resulting in scarcity of transport vehicles and containers for the export-oriented industry, which was subsequently affecting shipments all over the country.
The government seems to be nowhere and we, the exporters, suffer the most whenever the transporters go on strike,” he remarked and urged the government to take immediate notice and end the goods transporters’ strike.
According to the PHMA chairman, Karachi ports handle about 9,827 containers daily, including 4,665 export containers and 5,162 import containers. He voiced fear that if the strike was not called off, exports worth Rs10 billion could be affected on a daily basis, which would deal a major blow to the government’s goal of enhancing exports to narrow the trade gap.
According to the latest statistics of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan imported goods worth $23 billion in July-December 2019 while it exported only $11.5 billion worth of goods during the period, a deficit of $11.6 billion.
“Goods of export-oriented industries are ready to be shipped but we find no containers and transport vehicles to move them to ports,” Bilwani said while expressing concern. “If export shipments are not dispatched timely, exporters will have to resort to air shipments, which cost a great deal more and caused financial loss.”
Recently, the National Highway Authority (NHA), which operates under the Ministry of Communication, increased the fines 10 times for rules violation, said United Goods Transport Alliance Chairman Ghulam Yaseen. Citing an example, he said a previous fine of Rs500 had now been raised to Rs5, 000.
The authorities were also making changes in the axle load conditions from time to time, which should be settled once and for all, he stressed.
“By imposing heavy fines, the authorities are not saving the roads,” he said. “The government should define standards for the axle load and stick to these.” Businessmen could not make an investment on a daily basis according to different standards of the government, he remarked.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s report “State of Pakistan’s Economy – First Quarterly Report for the year 2019-2020”, the government has postponed regular action against axle load to ease the operational constraints faced by the manufacturers.
The transporters are not happy with the government policies. Both the passenger and goods transporters went on a two day strike last week. But after negotiations with government officials – they ended the strike. But goods transporters once again went on an indefinite strike to press their demands.
Cargo supplies across the country came to a halt on Monday when transporters suspended their operations in protest over a hefty increase in fines, forcing the federal government to send in its top guns for holding talks to resolve the crisis.
Governor Imran Ismail, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen have been given the task to woo the transporters. Transporters said that they decided to halt the cargo supply as a last resort after their several appeals had failed to convince the authorities to take action on their concerns.
They said they paid millions of rupees in taxes and play a key role in the overall economic activity of the country but they were never taken on board by the government where the making of the recent policy was concerned.
The transporters cannot afford the hefty fines. From power corridors in Islamabad to authorities in the National Highways and Motorways Police (NHMP), they have been pleading [with] everyone for the last couple of months but in vain.
One representative of transport federation said that “we are left with no choice but to suspend our operation as part of a countrywide strike. Right now, more than 7,500 heavy vehicles involved in goods transport are parked in Kathore and Hawkes bay truck stand.”
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