LAHORE - Uncertainty is prevailing about the fate of over 50,000 motorcycle rickshaws plying on city routes after the apex court’s decision to ban them.

Transport authorities are yet to decide as how to comply with the Supreme Court’s directions in a situation when any action against the three-wheeler could create multiple problems for thousands of commuters using this mode of transportation for daily travelling. The real problem is that the city of over 10 million people still lacks efficient public transport.

Lahore needs more than 2,000 dedicated buses to meet the travelling need of millions of daily commuters but it has only around 500 buses at 56 routes. One could see dozens of passengers waiting for buses and vans at every bus stop of Ferozepur Road despite presence of multi-billion metro service on the city artery.

“Yes, a complete ban on operation of motorcycle rickshaw is big challenge for the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) and other departments in managing the city’s transport. and it can take two to three years to completely resolve this issue. We are devising a strategy for this issue,” LTC spokesperson Nasir Hussain told The Nation on Friday.

Motorcycle rickshaws could be seen in every nook and corner of Lahore except of Main Boulevard Liberty, Ferozepur Road, and The Mall where their operation was strictly banned. Thousands of people travel through these rickshaws which are considered cheapest and easiest mode of transportation as compared to buses and vans.

The major transport operators also want strict action against the movement of three-wheelers but authorities are reluctant to move against them.

The accurate number of three wheelers in Lahore was unknown but a survey conducted by the LTC in 2013 described the figure 38,000. But, an official of the same company seeking anonymity told The Nation that motorcycle rickshaws are now reaching more than 50,000.

Although the apex court has put ban on three-wheelers of unregistered companies, the number of rickshaws would decrease to less than 5,000 if the authorities take action fully complying with the court’s direction as according to the LTC survey, over 50 per cent of the motorcycle rickshaws are with tempered chassis number. Majority of them are also in worst condition and unfit for public transportation.

The LTC had formed the committee led by Mehar Ishtiaq, PML-N MNA, to devise strategy about the rickshaws following the survey of 2013 but it could not reach at any conclusion despite passing three years period. The survey was also forwarded to Excise and Taxation Department and Punjab Transport Department seeking their recommendation on the issue.

Punjab’s Transport Department, a couple of year ago, had imposed a ban on the induction and use of new two-stroke engine motorcycle rickshaws in five major cities Lahore, Multan, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad over environment issue but the problem still exist.

The official said the LTC started discussion with different stakeholders to tackle this issue after the apex court decision which was taken in view of the rickshaws’ worst impact on environment.

“Rickshaw union is very powerful and has the capacity to block the city in case of any curb on their operation. The other challenge is about the livelihood of the thousands of people own these rides,” the official said.