LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR                    -             The Punjab government has opted to allow the public transport to come on roads to facilitate the general public of the province. A meeting was held here at Transport House Lahore on Friday under the chairmanship of Provincial Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Social Welfare Raja Basharat with Punjab Transporters on Friday.

Addressing the media persons after the meeting, the minister said that the government cares about transporters and other business class as well as protection of masses from coronavirus, therefore the Punjab Chief Minister would decide soon to allow public transport in the province conditionally.

He said that petrol and diesel prices had reduced drastically in the last few months, therefore a committee headed by Secretary Transport had been set up to reduce or review fares with the consultation of transporters. Provincial Law Minister said that according to the Standard Operating Procedures SOPs set by the health department for public transport, one passenger on two seats, 3 feet distance between passengers while boarding, AC should be closed and windows should be kept open.”Transporters will ensure disinfection of the bus after each trip and availability of sanitizer at each terminal, while passengers will get in from the front door and get off from the back door. Passengers with fever or cough will not be allowed to get on the bus.” 

Provincial Minister for Industry Mian Aslam Iqbal, Secretary Transport Asad Rehman Gilani, Secretary Provincial Transport Authority Muhammad Iqbal, DIG Traffic Punjab, other officers and transporter representatives from across Punjab were also present. The committee will present its final recommendations to the Chief Minister who will make the final decision.

Meanwhile, Sindh refused to resume transport services as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced it is reopening all public transport from Monday, following in Punjab’s footsteps, a private TV channel reported. Sindh refused to do so, citing the rising number of coronavirus patients in the country and a “critical situation” in the province as cases, deaths, and recoveries continued to increase simultaneously.

The announcements from the KP, Punjab, and Sindh governments came after Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested the provincial authorities to open public transport.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement, Sindh Transport Minister Ovais Shah stated that although he respected the Prime Minster’s decision, coronavirus cases in the province were on an upward trend and the provincial government could not afford to let public transport open.

KP government has subjected the reopening of transport beginning Monday to the condition that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on prevention from the deadly coronavirus would be followed by all those using transport as well as operators.