Islamabad: Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Muhammad Shafiq Arain said on Sunday the government was holding consultations with all stakeholders including transporters to implement revised fine rate for traffic rules violations on motorways and highways.
In an exclusive panel interview with this agency Shafiq Arain, a Member National Assembly (MNA) from Lodhran said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government should be given credit for taking the much needed initiative to control accidents on the national highways and motorways.
The objective of this revision was to promote a culture of responsible driving and maximize safety of commuters on national road network, he said adding that efforts were being made to find out a way out through talks.
He also hinted that besides fines, the government could implement the rule of cancellation of license of irresponsible drivers as practiced in advanced countries. He said according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures in 2016, more than 27,500 people were killed, and an estimated 500,000 people were injured in Pakistan because of road traffic crashes, which was three times greater than the number of combined deaths in terrorism (956) and homicide (8516) for the corresponding year.
The economic cost of road traffic crashes in middle-income countries, he said, is estimated to be as high as five per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The parliamentary secretary said Pakistan’s GDP is projected to increase to US $ 360 billion in 2020 and if this projection is correct, based on a conservative cost of three per cent of GDP, road traffic crashes could cost the Pakistan economy about US $ 11 billion in 2020. He said the earlier fine rates were framed in 2000, at the time of promulgation of National Highway Safety Ordinance and after passage of 19 years now the revision of fines was needed.
He said the government was striving to complete the ongoing road infrastructure projects in time but due to financial constraints, sometimes the projects are delayed. He said New Airport Metro project would be completed this year.
To a question he said audit of the National Highway Authority (NHA) projects launched during the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) era was being done and action would be taken against the culprits in case proofs of corruption, embezzlement and mismanagement were traced.
He said that toll plazas of Lahore-Multan Motorway (M-3) and Hazara Motorway would be auctioned through open bidding tendering process. Shafiq Arain said the PTI government has been taking steps to make National Highway Authority (NHA) a self-sufficient institution and soon it would be able to arrange funds for its projects without government support.
Replying to a query, he said Sukkur-Hyderabad (M-6) would be built on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis. The 296 km long M-6 motorway is the only missing vital link of North to South connectivity, i.e. from Karachi to Peshawar.
The project is to be built as part of the larger Eastern Alignment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as the timely completion of the corridor remained top most priority of the country.
He said National Transport Research Centre (NTRC) used to be redundant organization in the past and there is no substantial work done by its experts in last many years. But, he added, under the PTI rule it has come out from a long hibernation as it has launched a countrywide classified count and origin destination surveys to make prudent traffic policies.
NTRC was established in 1974 to provide research and development support for planning and appraisal of transport sector projects in a coordinated and cost-effective manner, he informed. To a question, he said policy for new inter changes on motorways was being strictly followed and no inter change would be built to benefit someone or get political advantage.
He said policy of mandatory M-Tag on Motorways would be strictly implemented after resolution of some technical problems and after that no vehicle without M-Tag would be allowed to enter motorways.