Goods’ transporters based in Karachi continued their strike on Saturday for yet another day in protest against recurring incidents of lawlessness and violence against them on major highways, as well as against the alleged highhandedness on the part of unscrupulous elements in the National Highway Authority (NHA), Motorway Police, and other highway authorities.
The port operations and transportation of raw material and finished products to and from various industries to upcountry areas, Iran, and Afghanistan; have been severely hampered due to the continuing strike of goods’ transport carriers, which started earlier in the week.
General-Secretary of Karachi Goods’ Carriers’ Association Muhammad Shoaib Khan told The News that some 25,000 goods transport carriers, which originate from Karachi, had halted their operations as these vehicles had been parked in protest at various locations around Karachi.
The locations where goods’ transport carriers had been parked in protest by their operators included Kathore, link road between National Highway and Super Highway, Hawkesbay Truck Stand.
The office-bearer of the Karachi Goods’ Carriers Association said that the strike of goods’ transporters had entered the seventh day.
He said that an alliance of eight major transporters’ associations in the city had been at the forefront of the protest movement being waged in favour of the long denied demands of the goods’ transporters.
Shoaib Khan said that drivers and other crew of goods’ transport carriers frequently faced incidents of abductions, extortion, theft, and deprivation of their vehicles and other precious goods and raw material by lawless elements especially during their passage on highways running along routes of interior Sindh.
He said that the goods’ transporters also faced extortion on the hands of unscrupulous elements working in connivance with the NHA who took heavy bribes from crew of the goods’ carriers on the pretext of unauthorised and overweighing carrying of goods. He said that in the Punjab, the goods’ transporters faced restriction on their movement for 72 hours when caught by the Motorway Police on highways and fined for overweight carrying of goods.
He said that the goods’ transporters had yet to receive financial compensation for their 966 vehicles, which had been set on fire, damaged, or their goods were looted on major highways during widespread incidents of arson, lawlessness, rioting, and violent protest in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December, 2007.
He said that shortage of diesel and constant rise in fuel price had been another major issue hitting hard the goods’ transporters like other concerned transporters of the country.
He said that up to 2,400 vehicles originated from Karachi on a daily basis taking industrial goods, raw material, and merchandise, for industries or end consumers in the upcountry areas or international destinations related to Iran and Afghanistan. He said that at present operations of all these goods’ carriers had been halted following their association’s strike call severely hampering import and export operations and smooth functioning of industries in the country.
He said that despite the strike of goods’ transporters continuing for last several days, no government authority concerned had come forward so far to hold negotiations with the protesting associations of transporters so there had been no option for them but to continue with their protest drive. He said that not only industries of the country but goods’ transporters, large number of people associated with the transport business, had been incurring heavy financial losses due to the continuing strike.