Covid-19: Goods’ transporters push panic button to win stimulus package

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LAHORE: Amid coronavirus-fuelled panic across the country, goods’ transporters have raised fake alarm bells of hindrances by law enforcement agencies to get a stimulus package from the government, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt.

According to the sources, the transporters have started creating panic as “they want a stimulus package for themselves and they have started blaming the police and law enforcement agencies for creating hurdles in their movement despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s order.

The PM had lifted a ban on goods’ transporters to ensure adequate supply of essential food items owing to the nationwide lockdown caused by coronavirus.

Pakistan Transport Council President Tanvir Ahmad Jutt alleged that the bureaucracy, police and other law enforcement agencies are creating hurdles in the transportation of goods.

Talking to this scribe, Jutt said that the supply chain or transportation of essential food items are likely to be interrupted if the bureaucracy, police and other law enforcement agencies allegedly continue to create hurdles in the way of transporters.

“More than 50pc of our drivers are refusing to continue the supply of essential foods items due to the behaviour of police, but we are continuing [service] only to facilitate people in desperate need of daily use items,” Jutt said. “Otherwise, we would have gone on strike by now.”

He said the drivers work day and night to ensure that food essentials reach markets without any delay, “but the attitude of Punjab and Sindh police is unbearable, as some officials on check-posts even ask for bribes”.

“This undue interference by law enforcement agencies is causing disruption in the smooth supply of essential products, the prices of essential food items are likely to go up in the near future.”

Jutt claimed that just like doctors who are saving the lives of people from coronavirus, transporters are also burning the midnight oil to ensure that essential edibles reach markets on time and people are saved from starvation.

He demanded the government to provide relief to the goods’ transporters and reschedule the instalments of bank loans for trucks and waive token tax and toll tax for transporters.

“The government should further reduce the prices of diesel so that transporters could continue supplying medicine and other food without delays,” he said. “We are helping the government and masses so the government should also provide us relief.”

Meanwhile, talking to Pakistan Today, Punjab Chief Secretary’s spokesperson Nabila Ghazanfar rejected the allegations levelled by transporters and dubbed them “absolutely baseless”.

She claimed that all deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners of the province have been ordered by the chief secretary to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicines and essential food items. “No one is stopping them from transporting essential food items,” she added.

“We have not received any complaints yet regarding the stoppage of essential items by the law enforcement agencies or bureaucracy,” she maintained, adding that if they have any such complaints they could inform the respective DCs or Chief Secretary’s office.

Moreover, sources in the police department maintained that they are not stopping transporters carrying essential goods.

“But we do check trucks for security reasons; we have found people hiding in the back or drivers using goods transport as mode of public transport despite lockdown in the province,” said an official.

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