Peshawar            -       Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are being flouted with impunity in public transport although the government has asked all businesses to ensure SOPs while there is confusion as to who is responsible to implement the SOPs.

During a visit to the bus terminals in Peshawar and Islamabad, very few people were seen wearing facemasks while the passenger coaches and other vehicles were overcrowded the same way as they used to be before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

This correspondent travelled in air-conditioned coaches from Peshawar bus terminal to Karachi Company in Islamabad and again the journey back home and witnessed the coaches to have been overcrowded while the passengers were also not required or asked to wear masks.

In one coach, a passenger said, “Each row in the coach should not have more than three passengers seated. However, here each row is having four passengers. Either the government authorities or bus terminal management should care about it.”

It may be mentioned here that each passenger is charged Rs410 for travel from Peshawar to Islamabad. A passenger said that even if the drivers can even charge Rs500 per passenger if they skip one passenger from the row by accommodating only three instead of four passengers per row. 

Speaking to The Nation, president of Peshawar-Islamabad Adda Union Muhammad Alam claimed that they have been permitted by the authorities to carry routine number of passengers, without skipping any passenger in the seats despite the corona pandemic.

To a question about facemasks, he said: “It is the responsibility of relevant government authorities to ensure use of facemasks. In the early days of corona pandemic, both Motorway Police and provincial transport authorities would ensure use of facemasks by passengers but nowadays they are not taking care of it.”

When the KP Transport Minister Shah Muhammad was contacted on his mobile phone, his secretary said that the minister was taking rest and he could talk at morning time only. However, he claimed that it is the job of the traffic police to ensure SOPs in the public transport.

Adnan Sami, an assistant patrolling officer of the Motorway Police, told this correspondent that they have launched an awareness campaign to motivate passengers to report the violation of anti-corona SOPs.

“Someone travelling in coaches and other vehicles should dial 130 and inform the motorway police of any overcrowding and non-wearing of facemasks and other matters on call and the driver concerned would be fined Rs10,000 on the motorway,” he said.

However, he added that it is difficult to check each and every vehicle on the motorway for the SOPs since there are vehicles in such large numbers.

Speaking to The Nation, SP Traffic in Peshawar, Wasim Khalil said that SOPs violations should be reported to the motorway police on the way or even local police in Peshawar.

“We are also going to launch actions in the bus terminals from Saturday to check any violations of the SOPs at bus terminals in Peshawar,” the official said.