ISLAMABAD - Senate standing committee yesterday showed concern over 15 percent toll tax overcharging, by M-Tag, from vehicles travelling from Peshawar to Islamabad via motorway and asked for the abolition of the M-Tag.

From Islamabad to Peshawar the E-tag charge is Rs 200 from cars but ironically from Peshawar to Islamabad M-Tag is charging Rs 230 for the same distance, said Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Communication here.

The committee also ordered for the abolition of M-tag from motorway and asked for the enquiry of overcharging and to provide the details of the funds collected through M-Tag so far.

The meeting of the standing committee was presided over by its chairman Senator Daud Khan Achakzai, discussed the province-wise length of motorway, the recommendations sent by the motorway police and postal services, E-Tag, M-Tag and the steps taken by the motorway police against overloading.

On Peshawar toll plaza E-Tag is operated by NADRA while on Islamabad Motorway toll plaza M-Tag is installed by Frontier Works Organization (FWO) which is overcharging the vehicles. The chairman of the committee said that when NADRA is already operation E-tag there was no need of starting M-tag.

Senator Daud Khan Achakzai said that the next meeting of the committee should be informed that why and on whose orders M-tag was installed. On FWO’s installed M-Tag the people travelling from Peshawar is being charged 15 percent extra but there is no one to question the overcharging, he said. Tomorrow another private company will start issuing their own stickers, and overcharge, Achakzai said.

The chairman committee appreciated the performance of toll plaza and E-Tag system on motorway, however, said that the M-Tag system installed by FWO is not good and should be removed.

Daud Achakzai also showed his annoyance over calling the roads in Baluchistan as motorway and said that motorway is 6 lanes while two and four lanes roads cannot be called motorway. The roads in Baluchistan are two or four lanes but in every meeting it is being tried to declare them motorway which is nothing but cheating with the people of the province, he said. He said during the incumbent government, Baluchistan has to live with shallow promises of the centre and the constitution of the committees for resolving its problems.

He said that the prime minister is in charge minister of communication and he should ensure the participation of Minister of State in the committee meeting. The participation of the minister of state will ensure the resolution of the issues related to the communication ministry.

Regarding making new appointments in National Motorway and Highways police, the chairman of the committee said that despite the repeated recommendations no action has been taken in this regard. Prime Minister should order recruitment on the vacant posts in NMW& HW police, he said.

Inspector General Motorway police, Haji Saleem, said that due to shortage of personnel the employees of NMW&HW policy cannot go on leaves.

He said that Federal Public Service Commission has failed to recruit employees for vacant post approved in 2014.The committee has decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister for the recruitment of staff for the NMW&HW police.

On the issue of overcharging, of the customers, by the restaurants and shops in the rest area of Motorway, Achakzai said that these restaurants and shops owners have their way and are over charging customers. He asked NHA to strictly monitor the rest areas.

Briefing about various motorway projects Chairman NHA Shahid Ashraf Tarar said that Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway is 155 KM, Islamabad-Lahore Motorway is 367 KM. Besides, from Faisalabad to Multan two sections of Motorway are under construction, while under the CPEC procurement for 392 KM motorway from Multan to Sukkur has been completed.

Similarly, the chairman NHA said that work is started on the PSDP funded Lahore-Khaniwal road. Prime Minister will inaugurate construction of two ways Gwadar Khushab road on February 3, Tarar said. On the issue of overcharging by M-Tag, the Secretary NHA said that toll tax should be uniform and assured to conduct enquiry in this regard. Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that NHA abruptly enhancing toll tax without asking anyone and don’t have any legal excuse for their actions.

The Chairman NHA informed the committee that Islamabad Lahore motorway was handed over for 20 year on BOT basis. Out of Rs 206 billion revenue, NHA will get a share of 43 percent; he said adding that slowly and gradually all the motorway networks will be leased out on BOT basis. FWO has secured loan from the banks for the lease and they are maintaining its record, he added. For the first times commercial banks have invested in road works, chairman NHA said adding that for Hyderabad-Sukkhur motorway they are trying to get international investors.Senator Sajjad Tauri also criticized the increased toll tax by M-Tag and said don’t increase the problems for the common man.