Killing of drivers, extortion: Truckers stop Nato supply
PESHAWAR, Jan 8: Transporters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday announced to stop the supply of goods to Nato and International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) troops in Afghanistan from today (Wednesday) over bonded carrier system.
The decision was taken by Khyber Trailers Drivers and Workers Union in a meeting on their office on Ring Road.
The participants also decided to stop the supply of Afghan Transit Trade goods for indefinite time, saying many of the crew members (drivers, cleaners) were killed during transportation to Afghanistan but the affected families were not compensated so far.
“It is our joint decision taken by representatives of different transporters’ unions and no one will violate it,” Khyber Trailers Drivers and Workers Union president Jehanzeb Khan told Dawn.
He said not only police but Khasadar Force of Khyber Agency also were forcing transporters to pay extortion money and that each trailer had to pay at least Rs20,000 at a short distance from Takhta Baig Checkpost to Landi Kotal which they could not afford any longer.
Mr Khan said the decision about strike was taken on June 12, 2012 in Karachi but the supply was resumed after assurance of the government but it failed to fulfill its commitment forcing transporters to boycott the supply of Nato and Afghan Transit Trade goods.
“We wanted to stop the supply at least a week ago but many of our vehicles were on way from Karachi to Kabul and now they have returned to Peshawar, so we boycotted the supply,” he said.
Mr Jehanzeb made it clear that the supply of food items, fruit, and vegetable from Peshawar markets to Afghanistan would continue, but Nato, ISAF and Afghan Transit Trade goods would remain suspended until demands were met.
Later, Transporter Union’s central secretary general Sikandar Hayat told a news conference at Peshawar Press Club that the Federal Board of Revenue had issued licences to some private companies who had introduced bonded carrier system, who are not allowing transporters to supply goods without paying them ‘extortion money’ from Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 per vehicle.
He said each vehicle had to load goods in Karachi as there was no warehouse like that of National Logistic Service. He said only latest model vehicles were accepted for the freight and those having old model trucks and trailers were not given the goods and that was why most of the transporters stopped taking part in the supply.
He said bonded carrier system had been implemented a month ago causing serious problems for the people because all truck and trailer terminals, restaurants and auto-workshops in Peshawar were closed rendering thousands of poor workers jobless.
The transporters of Balochistan, he said would also stop the supply via Chaman because they also faced the same problem, saying the entire money collected from the transporters was going into pockets of some influential company owners and government had nothing to do with it.
Mr Sikandar said transporters were ready to pay all taxes to the government but it should restore the old supply system of NLC.
“We have to register our vehicles with a particular company and in case it did not have goods for supply then transporters will have to give bribe of Rs50,000 to the company for loading goods somewhere else,” he said.
He said these companies had been exploiting the transporters and not ready to extend help in case of kidnapping, killing and injuring of drivers by suspected militants, adding that the government should ensure protection to transport workers and vehicles.