KARACHI - A group of transporters on Thursday expressed concern over the continuous delay in the compensation of burnt vehicles. These vehicles were burnt during the unrest after the assassination of PPPs chairperson Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007. Federal government had promised compensating the affected transporters but so far neither the reimbursement nor other demands of the transporters has been fulfilled, which had been discussed in a high-level meeting some times back to address the transporter issues , The Nation has learnt. It may be noted that a high level meeting between the representatives of federal and provincial governments and the transport unions had been held some time back to discuss the issues relating to federal government as raised by the transporters. We have waited enough but neither the federal nor the provincial government are taking the issue seriously which had been discussed in the high level meeting in Karachi. Government assured us that they would compensate the losses of burnt vehicles but only one problem of collection of toll tax from commercial and heavy vehicles had been decreased so far and the remaining problems still exist, they added. The meeting which was chaired by Federal Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, who was called by Home Minister Sindh Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, to address the problems of the transporters about compensating them about their burn vehicles and price-hike of petroleum products. The Provincial Transport Minister Akhter Hussain Jadoon was also present in meeting. Kaira explained the governments point of view against all the major demands and then asked the representatives of transporters to justify their demands. The representatives of transporters including Capt (retd) Asif Mehmood, chairman Pakistan Transport Federation, Madad Khan Niazi, chairman Supreme Council of Transport Ittihad, Al-Haaj Malik Ahmed Khan, president Sindh Goods Trucks, Trailor Association abd Gyssaub Soomro presented their demands. The demands which were discussed in the meeting include that as the prices of diesel have decreased in the international market therefore per litre cost of diesel may also be reduced in the country as the recent increase in the prices have badly affected the transport business. They are not getting the required number of transportation orders from Karachi to up-country. Capt (retd) Asif was also of the view that quantum of import and export has gone down which have also brought adverse impacts on the transport business. Collection of toll tax from commercial and heavy vehicles trucks, trailors, containers involved in goods carrying business be abolished as it effects the profitability. There are 32 to 35 toll collection points from Karachi to Peshawar and every truck has to pay toll tax amounting to Rs7,000 per trip. Presently heavy and commercial vehicles are allowed to operate through Mai Kolachi Road from 11pm to 6am which is quite insufficient for the transportation of import-export materials from industrial areas to the port and vice versa. These restrictions may be removed and entry may also be allowed during day times as well, and alternate route may be provided for the transportation of goods from the Korangi Industrial Areas to Karachi Port through Sea View as the present available route is more than 100 kilometres long and is not viable. The representatives of federal and provincial government also gave their suggestions against each of the demand of the transporters. A high official informed the transporters that the prices of the diesel cannot be reduced as even today government has to pay subsidy of Rs35 per litre and every year an amount of Rs126 billion is borne by the government to provide the diesel at the existing rates, hence the question of reduction in cost of per litre diesel is to be ruled out and such an irrational demand cannot be accepted. The minister accepted the demand of the compensation of the damaged vehicles and agreed to form another committee with representatives of the transporters. Regarding the toll tax, the provincial minister informed that an amount of Rs6-8 billion are collected every year by the National Highway Authority (NHA) which in turn is utilised for the repair and maintenance of highways and road networks all over the country and its abolition will destroy the road infrastructure. However, the minister agreed to provide relief to extent of 25 per cent of the existing toll tax rates. After long discussions, government agreed that at present, it is not in a position to reduce the prices of diesel as such demand cannot be accepted. A fresh committee will be established having representation of the transporters for appropriate compensation of the burnt vehicles. Government will provide relief to the goods carriers including trucks, trailers and containers by reducing the toll tax to the extent of 40 per cent only. Transporters will hold meetings with the Home Secretary, DIG Traffic and DCO Karachi to find out some workable solution keeping in view the orders of the Court and the overall convenience of the City. Provincial government will establish police check posts and pickets on the Northern Bypass and other link roads on the pointed by the transporters. Police patrolling will also be increase on the highways and CDGK will take up the matter of leasing of 159 buildings at old truck stand with the concerned quarters in the provincial government and will resolve the issue as early as possible. The transporters were of view that delay in solution of their demands would not only increased their problems but also shake the confidence of the government. Thus, the government should fulfill the demands of transporters without further delay. The meeting was also attended by the Home Secretary Sindh, Secretary Transport Sindh, Secretary Port and Shipping, DCO Karachi, CCPO Karachi, Chairman KPT, DG Port and Shipping.