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Brutal implementation of ALR: solutions sought | The Express Tribune

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KARACHI:

Leading business leaders have presented some proposals aimed at finding solutions to the problems arising from the sudden implementation of the Axle Load Regime (ALR) of the National Road Safety Ordinance (NHSO) 2000 .

The ALR, reapplied on November 12, 2023, hits local trade, exports and imports. They said the authority concerned had imposed the ALR and adopted a narrative that the highways were being destroyed.

The ALR previously implemented in 2019 also caused disruptions in the supply chain of all commodities and raw materials including rice, wheat, wheat flour, cereals, animal feed, fertilizers , edible oil, cement, coal, steel, cotton and others.

They said billions of rupees have been spent on highways that cannot accommodate heavy transport. Immediate implementation of the ALR would trigger a new wave of inflation.

Following the sudden implementation of the new ALR, additional costs of essential commodities (fertilizers, edible oilseeds, poultry, fruits, vegetables, sugarcane, refined sugar, rice, wheat, cereals and others) via commercial transport vehicles are estimated at around 263 billion rupees per year. . To address the negative effects on the economy, it is necessary to develop a policy by consensus among the industries and sectors concerned for a phased implementation of the ALR.

Pakistan needs to significantly increase its exports to meet government commitments, and export promises cannot be kept without reducing the cost of transportation. In turn, the cost of transportation cannot be reduced without shipments via cheap waterways. Many traders, exporters, importers and other users of highways believe that road users can afford the costs of maintaining highways built with bitumen, or pay the cost of constructing another additional road lane in RCC (concrete reinforced cement) built along highways. asphalt roads are not suitable for heavy automobile traffic.

Read Axle load management

They also urged the government to establish a Waterways Development Authority to build waterways at less than half the cost of the ML-1 (which can carry a maximum of 30,000 tonnes per day), while Cheap waterways can carry 300,000 tons or more.

Given the rapid growth in transportation needs, new roads will cost much more than developing waterways. The Waterways Development Authority will propose legislation relating to general rules and regulations as well as management, particularly to enable private sector investment (where citizens have already purchased waterfront land but cannot progress because no legislation exists).

“Before fully implementing the scheme, it should be realized that much more needs to be done to immediately rehabilitate the existing road infrastructure. Motorways and national roads represent no more than 5% of the entire national road network but, above all, serve 80% of road traffic. At the same time, the question arises whether past and present governments have revised and updated the National Road Transport Policy 2007, or implemented the National Transport Policy 2017-2018, or taken appropriate measures in line with the National Cargo and Logistics Policy 2020,” Seatrade said. Chairman of the group of companies, Muhammad Najib Balagamwalla.

“Every new minister or secretary has this penchant for extracting dormant files and attempting to resurrect those deep in the crypts of bureaucracy. The intent is usually impartial and legal, but the ramifications are rarely viewed or seriously understood. Priorities are skewed, especially when the country is still facing the stresses of a difficult economy,” he said.

While railing against the ALR, Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) president and Salt Manufacturers Association of Pakistan (SMAP) founder president Ismail Suttar said the cost transport of salt is greater than its value (salt). Concerned authorities raise this issue from time to time. Cargo vehicles carry the same load, around 70 tonnes or more, but the police enjoy a party while accepting commissions and bribes all the way from the port to the destination in the country or vice versa.

He said the ALR should be ignored because if it is strictly enforced, there will be a shortage of food as there are not enough commercial vehicles in the country, estimated at only 350,000 vehicles.

“The implementation of the ALR will immediately require a fleet of more than double, or around 700,000 commercial vehicles, which will increase fuel consumption, tire demand, pollution, automobile traffic, will trigger a new storm inflation and most importantly the vehicles will not be able to be imported overnight and the country will. it takes millions of dollars to buy them. So it is necessary to adopt a long term policy to implement the ALR,” he said.

Murtaza Mandviwala, a leading automotive expert and author of “Steering the Pakistani Wheel,” said regulators need to rethink their view of the auto industry. “Affordable mobility of people and goods is essential for economic growth. Pakistan is left with road transport as the only form of mobility (with poor railways, no waterways, few airports and scarce public transport).

Meanwhile, sharing details of the ALR, business leaders said that around 350,000 units of trucks with different axles are plying across the country, majority of them being three-axle (10-wheeler) and six-axle (22 wheels).

A trailer previously carried 55 to 80 tons of goods and a high-sided truck carried 30 tons of goods, but after the implementation of ALR, they lift 40 tons and 17 tons respectively.

Some users had to get a stay order from the Sindh High Court for Karachi only, as there is no highway in the port city where goods vehicles can carry 55 tonnes and 30 tonnes, but vehicles travel heading towards the hinterland must follow the ALR. of 40 tonnes and 17 tonnes respectively.

The writer is staff correspondent

Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st2024.

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