17 Arrested as Karakoram Highway remain deserted due Protest
Gilgit / Kohistan: The fifth day of the Transporters strike on Karakoram Highway witnessed arrests of at least 17 vehicle owners and drivers on Saturday evening sent to Central Prison Haripur.
The transport associations are protesting against the “convoy system” of travelling enforced by the government Life has virtually brought Gilgit-Baltistan and Kohistan to a standstill. The government has drawn a framework in which the vehicles are to travel in groups from Diamer till Besham escorted by law-enforcement personnel but between 8am and 4pm only.
Repeated attacks on passenger buses and the targeted killing on led the government to introduce this system in 2012.
Transporters urged authorities to allow the free movement of buses and vehicles along the route, and termed the convoy system “flawed and impractical”. They said the system increases travelling time from 16 hours to 36 hours.
A manager at Mashabroom Transport Company in Gilgit said, “No breakthrough has been achieved in talks so far. We want to reach a solution but the authorities do not seem to be in a hurry to settle the issue.”
As there's no development on the subject, the said has left employees of transport companies and travellers not only unemployed but as well passangers stranded in G-B and Rawalpindi.
Kashif, a student wishing to travel to Rawalpindi, said “Transporters and authorities engage in conflicts at the cost of passengers.”
Transporters have demanded the government devise a mechanism that will ensure security, the well-being of their businesses and the convenience of passengers.
“With the existing system in place, it is easier for militants to target us,” said Khan Alam, a transporter, adding convoys of 50 buses escorted by a single police van are sitting ducks for organised assaults.
On Saturday night, police arrested G-B Transport Union President Ashraf Hussaini which sparked anger among transporters who blocked the KKH. At least 17 protestors were detained at Komaila police station, Kohistan from where they were shifted to Central Prison Haripur on Sunday.
A Gilgit government official requesting anonymity said the strike makes little difference to the authorities. “Private and government vehicles are still frequenting the route and following the established guidelines,” he said.
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