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‘Govt plans to bring 4,000 buses; 50 coaches for women’

By Imtiaz Ali
Karachi, The Sindh government intends to bring 4,000 new buses in the city to control crowding in passenger vehicles. It also plans to introduce 50 coaches only for women, Transport Minister Akhtar Hussain Jadoon told the Sindh Assembly during question hour on Wednesday. He further said that the coaches reserved for women will have female conductors.
The minister said the city needs at least 10,000 new buses, because according to international standards there should be one bus for 1,500 people. Arif Mustafa Jatoi, reading out a written reply of the minister, pointed out that there were around 12,000 passenger vehicles in the city, of which 10,762 vehicles were registered. If one counts 40 passengers per vehicle it implies that passenger vehicles cater to the needs of only 400,000 people against a population of over 15 million in the city, he said.
Jadoon admitted that there was an acute shortage of passenger vehicles, forcing people to travel on the roofs of crowded vehicles.
Responding to a question by Farheen Mughal as to why the fare was not being reduced when oil prices have gone down in the international market, the minister said he had increased transport fares when diesel prices had increased by Rs20. He said they had a “mechanism” for fixing fares and he had reduced transport fares.
Responding to another question, the minister said they had given route permits to old vehicles because of a shortage of vehicles. Apparently in a light mood, the minister said that vehicles dating back to the World War-II era were still plying in the city.
Responding to a question by Dr Sikander Shoro, the minister said that a majority of vehicles had no route permits but his ministry had no power to take action. To a question by Kalsoom Chandio as to whether the transport ministry intended to ban old vehicles, the minister said this problem would be resolved when new vehicles are brought.
To a question by Heer Soho as to why action was not being taken against speeding which often results in accidents, the minister said he had no power to address this issue. He frequently responded to identical questions by saying that after the devolution plan, magisterial powers were given to local governments and the Home Department (DIG Traffic) was responsible for checking vehicles, etc. This prompted Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro to ask the transport minister what powers he enjoyed.
Jadoon said he had the powers to issue route permits only through the Provincial Transport Authority. The speaker observed that the minister should point out traffic violations in order to cancel permits.
Abdul Haseeb said when coaches were introduced in the city, it was announced that they will carry passengers according to the available seats, but this was not being followed. The minister said that the solution of all these problems lies in the new transport plan.
To a question by Munawar Abbasi, the minister said that a total of 1.6 million vehicles were registered in the city but all were not commercial. He, however, added that 2,300 commercial vehicles were plying without route permits.
To a question, the minister said that 30 to 40 insurance companies have been committing “fraud” in the name of third party insurance for the last 60 years and he referred this matter to Anti-Corruption Establishment for inquiry. According to the Motor Vehicles Law, third party insurance is mandatory in order to compensate accident victims if claimed by the deceased’s heirs.
Source: The News
Date:3/19/2009

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