LAHORE - Although the Punjab government has spent billions of rupees on public transport in the city, motorcycle and auto-rickshaws are catering to more than 70 percent of the passenger load.

A senior officer of the Punjab Transport Department said on condition of anonymity that registration of motorcycles was increasing by 16 percent every year in Lahore and three percent of these motorcycles were being converted into motorcycle rickshaws. In 2017, registration of motorcycles in Punjab was 184,789, while in five months of 2018 this number touched 204,862. In Punjab 823,596 motorcycles were registered in five months of the year 2018. 853,165 motorcycles were registered with Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control (ET&NC) department.

A senior officer of the traffic department said on condition of anonymity that there was no record of motorcycle rickshaws with any department of the Punjab government. Thousands of motorcycle rickshaws were running on the roads of the city without any authority or permission and a majority of the drivers are driving these rickshaws without any licence or training. The reason the Punjab government has a soft corner for these rickshaws is political. Sources in the Lahore Transport Company (LTC) said that their inspectors started challanning these rickshaws but a delegation of the rickshaw union office bearers led by some senior politicians met the LTC management and asked them to let the drivers run their business. They were of the view that these drivers were bread winners of their families so banning rickshaws would be tantamount to pushing a good number of families to starvation.

A transport expert said the former government failed to meet public transport needs because of improper ‘Land Use Planning’ in Lahore

Government has expanded city of Lahore beyond its limits, urbanisation itself has created many issues, he said, adding that provision of public transport is a costly project and certain cases rich countries also fail to provide public transport to their citizens.

An excise officer when questioned that were they registering vehicles keeping in view that capacity of the roads, “He said no, rather we are registering vehicle to meet our revenue target set by the Punjab government every year”.

Traffic engineering and transport planning agency (TEPA) officer said that traffic situation in provincial capital is very bad but government was not taking any Traffic demand management measures. He said that in countries like UK, Singapore and China etc vehicles were discourage to bring on roads. For this purpose these countries have imposed heavy parking charges on cars and private vehicles. In some countries vehicles only with specific registration numbers are allowed to run on roads in some countries carrot and stick policy is also introduced to minimize the traffic load on roads.