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EDITORIAL: It’s a shame that you can always count on transporters’ associations to throw a fit every time they are forced to comply with rules that they’ve been bending, and getting away with it, for years.

Typically, now that authorities are finally enforcing load limit regulations, prohibiting vehicles from carrying more than the maximum weight allowed by law, they’ve left wheat-loaded trucks at ports instead of cutting weight and getting on with their business.

This is threatening a wheat and flour crisis that, if left unaddressed any longer, will push up prices and bite into the common man’s budget at a time of already unprecedented inflation and unemployment.

Put simply, they’re resisting efforts by the government to enforce the National Highway and Motorway Police’s (NHMP’s) allowable load limits with weighbridges, which is meant to protect roads from degradation that ultimately threatens lives as well as supply chains.

And they’d much rather trigger a crisis that cuts essential supplies and raises prices, just to protect their own investments – which run foul of the law – even though the long-term cost in terms of damages, lives and supply chain disruptions will have to be borne by honest taxpayers.

It turns out that Pakistan is already hopelessly low on the list of safety management in logistics industry metrics. According to the World Bank’s logistic performance index (LPI), Pakistan stands far behind international and even regional countries, ranking 122 out of 160.

Just for perspective, Iran, India and Bangladesh stand at 64, 44 and 100, respectively, while China is number 26. This menace of overloading has already cost the exchequer billions of dollars by disrupting and destroying supply chains, in addition to the cost in terms of human lives because of accidents caused by bad roads.

Going forward, commitments to CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), and Pakistan’s hopes of becoming a transit hub, will require strict implementation of the axle load regime (ALR), so transporters will have to get used to having their trucks stopped and excess load removed.

It’s bad enough that the government has been blind to this issue for the longest time. And now that it is finally taking action, it is meeting stiff resistance; which needs to be sorted out firmly. It will not be enough to man and monitor highways and motorways alone, because transporters tend to dodge inspectors by taking smaller roads, causing much more damage in areas with considerably heavier traffic.

And it will have to act quickly. It is simply unacceptable that trucks full of wheat are stuck at ports because certain sectors demand special treatment, which in this case means freedom to break the rules.

The market runs just as much on perception and sentiment as demand-supply fundamentals, and news about imminent wheat shortage will not take long to cause an explosion in prices.

This would be bad enough, and blatantly wrong, in the best of times. And now, when people face the highest cost of living in the country’s history, such negligence is unforgivable.

The government came perilously close to feeling the wrath of the people when ridiculously inflated electricity bills for August caused outrage and fierce protests from suffering consumers.

It should know what to expect if the same people are now unable to afford their food just because it is unable to get transporters to obey the law of the land.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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Tariq Qurashi Oct 26, 2023 11:11am
Overloaded trucks contribute to destroying our roads, which costs us millions.
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Realist Oct 26, 2023 11:54am
Time, perhaps, to unleash SIFC-backed reign of (lawful) terror on this sector to sort it out?
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KU Oct 26, 2023 01:11pm
Like other antique technology-ridden sectors, the transport sector suffers from old methods and trucks that ply on our roads, and similar is the truth about our road-making technology. Since we killed railways many decades ago, this sector needs to benchmark itself with other countries to understand the truck-train concept and load spread, but then who are we to opine when the decisions are in the hands of the primates? Just keep in mind the fact that over half a million trucks ply our roads (mostly now turned into dirt roads because of poor road construction) and they keep goods and the country moving under difficult circumstances.
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Real Pakistani Oct 27, 2023 11:43am
The situation we are in, if we get free visas, we will abscond and never return to Pakistan.
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Usman Oct 27, 2023 01:12pm
We need to tax them or confiscate the trucks.Tax them generate revenues and finance others who want to get in transport business.eventually the competition will kill those who blackmail the govt.
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