Friday May 29, 2020
KARACHI: The government of Sindh said Friday that the standard operating procedures for public transport, including ride-hailing apps for taxis and buses, have been prepared so that commuting services can resume weeks after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced an ease in the coronavirus lockdown.
In this regard, Sindh Transport Minister Awais Shah said a final decision to resume public transport service would be taken tomorrow — Saturday — during a meeting of the provincial task force on coronavirus and with the consultation of doctors.
The confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pakistan have shot to almost 65,000 while almost 1,350 people have succumbed to the deadly infection. Sindh has the most patients, at 25,309, while Punjab follows closely, at 22,964, as of reporting time.
Earlier this month, the government of Sindh had refused to resume transport services while its Khyber Pakhtunkhwa counterpart had announced reopening of all public transport, following in Punjab's footsteps.
Sindh had refused to do so, citing the persistent rising number of coronavirus patients in Pakistan and a "critical situation" in the province as cases, deaths, and recoveries continued to increase simultaneously.
The announcements from the KP, Punjab, and Sindh governments had come after PM Imran had requested the provincial authorities to open public transport.
"I believe that whatever steps we opt for must take into account helping the most affected — our lower income strata of society," the premier had said in a press briefing.
"When we shut public transport, we must remember we are making life difficult for the poor. So I request everyone to open public transport.
"The United States has not shut it nor has Europe. Why have we?"
Responding to the prime minister's statement, Shah, the transport minister for Sindh, had stated that although he respected the premier's decision, coronavirus cases in the province were on an upward trend and the provincial government could not afford to let public transport open.
“Factory owners did not implement the SOPs after making a commitment with the government earlier,” Shah had said. "Does the prime minister wish for Pakistan to become Wuhan or Italy?"
"We fear that resuming public transport operations will turn Pakistan into Italy. The prime minister has admitted that people are not adhering to the SOPs after the lockdown was eased.
"Let us work together, respected prime minister. The provinces need your help at this time," said the minister.