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November 12, 2019

Sindh govt says it has no intention to shut down two app-based bus services

Karachi

November 12, 2019

The Sindh government has announced that neither has it passed any order to shut down the two newly launched mobile phone application-based mass transport services, Swvl and Airlift, in the city nor does it have any intention to pass such an order.

Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Environment and Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who also acts as the spokesperson for the Sindh government, said this in a statement issued on Monday as some reports kept circulating on the social media over the weekend that said the Sindh transport secretary had asked the regional transport authority to shut down two recently launched bus services in the city.

The transport secretary had passed such an order as the two companies had started their services without getting a no objection certificate from the government and fitness certificates for the commercial vehicles in their fleet.

A large number of citizens took to social media to express resentment over such an act of the Sindh government when it had completely failed to provide a functional mass transit or transportation system for Karachi for last several years.

In view of the criticism on social media platforms, the law adviser in his statement on Monday advised the citizens not to pay heed to the rumours which said the government was going to shut down the app-based bus services in Karachi.

Wahab explained that all what the provincial government wanted to do was to regulate all such transport services. “In this regard, consultation will be made with all the concerned stakeholders as any step would be taken only after taking them into confidence,” said the provincial adviser.

He added that the Sindh government would welcome such public transport services by the private sector as they not only provided quality transport services to commuters in the city but also created job opportunities for the people.

He, however, said there was a need for proper legislation in this regard. He maintained Sindh would be the first province to introduce such law to regulate and duly recognise such bus services in the cities.

Earlier, the Sindh government had brought under the net of sales tax two famous ride-hailing companies operating in the city as the provincial motor vehicles law was amended for the purpose to allow the operation of two ride-hailing services.

The Sindh government says it applied the lowest rate of general sales tax, five per cent, to the two services, Careem and Uber, compared to other provinces. In a related development, Swvl, a Dubai-based bus-hailing service, had a meeting on Monday with Sindh Transport Minister Syed Awais Qadir Shah.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, the Sindh government and Swvl agreed to work together to provide a mass-transit solution to the people of Sindh. The two sides explored avenues to improve transportation landscape of Sindh and agreed to enter into a public private partnership to provide high quality mass transit solutions.

Meanwhile, the transport minister told a private TV news channel that two bus companies should formally apply to the provincial government for getting route permits for their vehicles operating in the city as per the provincial transport laws. He added that the Sindh government would not shut down their services.

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