The strike by transporters against soaring petroleum prices affected people’s routine life in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday. The majority of office workers and students could not reach their destinations on time due to the wheel-jam strike the call for which had been given by the Muttahida Transport Union.
Transporters used batons to discourage drivers of taxicabs and rickshaws from plying their vehicles on roads and compelling them to join the wheel-jam strike. They pelted stones even on private cars and taxis at Benazir Bhutto Road, Chungi No. 22, Airport Road, Kutchery Chowk, Jhanda Chichi, Faizabad, Mall Road, Pirwadhai and Jhelum Road.
A heavy contingent of police reached different points to avoid any untoward incident. The hide and seek game was witnessed between police and protesters on different roads. At some places, protesters burnt tyres and blocked traffic.
Muttahida Transport Union (MTU) President Malik Muhammad Sultan told ‘The News’ that the strike would continue for an indefinite period. He said that the federal government was increasing POL and CNG prices every week without considering public problems. He said that they could ply their vehicles without petrol and CNG, but the government was not considering the difficulties of transporters and commuters. “We are not violating traffic rules, but facing heavy fines up to Rs1,000, which is unbearable for us,” he added.
The strike created problems for those who depend on private transport for commuting in twin cities. A large number of commuters were seen at Kutchery Bus Stop, Faizabad Bus Stop, Sixth Road Bus Stop, Mareer Chowk Bus Stop, Saddar Bus Stop, Chungi No. 22 Bus Stop and Airport Bus Stop. Helpless commuters, particularly women, waited for taxicabs for long hours.
When ‘The News’ contacted District Regional Transport Authority (DRTA) Secretary Syed Asad Raza Kazmi, he said that transporters observed strike without any reason. The Punjab government had increased transport fares by Rs2 after increase in POL and CNG prices. “All matters should be resolved through negotiations,” he said.
Talking to ‘The News,’ people belonging to different walks of life condemned transporters for the strike and said that the government was responsible for difficulties being faced by the public.