Govt seizes thousands of shipping containers to stop PTI march

Faced by huge financial losses goods transporters warn of protest
<p>Authorities place shipping containers in Islamabad to stop PTI activists from marching into the city on May 25, 2022. PHOTO ONLINE FILE</p>

Authorities place shipping containers in Islamabad to stop PTI activists from marching into the city on May 25, 2022. PHOTO ONLINE FILE

The federal government has once again seized thousands of shipping containers from trucks moving goods across the country in anticipation of a long march by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), irking good transporters who say the move would incur heavy financial losses.

The government plans to use goods trucks and shipping containers to create road blockades as it prepares to stop another long march on Islamabad by PTI activists within weeks after it attempted to stop the first protest march on May 25.

PTI Chief Imran Khan has been repeatedly saying that he would lead a second march if the date for fresh elections is not announced before the end of the six-day ultimatum he issued on May 26 and that he will come “better prepared” this time, unlike on May 25 when his party did not expect blockades and police crackdown.

Reports on Monday suggested that authorities in Rawalpindi and Islamabad had already placed shipping containers near major intersections in the twin cities. The government is also planning to completely cut road links between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab in the event PTI begins another march.

In the run-up to May 25 long march, the police and other authorities held a large number of shipping containers and trucks.

Goods transporters told SAMAA Money on Tuesday that the authorities have now seized over 5,000 goods vehicles once again.

Most of the trucks were held in cities near Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Attock, Chakwal, Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan, and Hassan Abdal.

The authorities removed shipping containers from the vehicles, placing them near major roads so that they could be used as barricades later.

Goods transporters say the move would not only incur financial losses to them but also affect the supply of goods and may lead to a shortage of consumer goods.

Various bodies representing transporters convened a meeting in Karachi on Monday to formulate a protest plan, but no protest was announced.

Imdad Hussain Naqvi, the spokesman for United Goods Transporters Alliance, said a delegation of transporters is leaving for Islamabad on Tuesday to raise the issue with the government.

Naqvi said that transporter understood the predicament of the government but it should also redress the complaints from transporters. Otherwise, he said, there would be a protest.

Holding trucks and removing shipping containers is something that every past government has done, and this government is following in their footsteps, he said.

Ghulam Muhammad Afridi, general secretary of Karachi Goods Association Carrier Association, said that they had received reports of more than 5,000 vehicles being held till Tuesday afternoon.

At least 700 vehicles were stopped within the limits of one police station in Mianwali alone, he said.

Afridi says it is unfortunate that goods-laden vehicles were also being seized.

“This situation is very alarming. We will go to Islamabad and talk to the government officials in this regard.”

Fazal Manan Jadoon, a transporter and leader, said before the May 25 march the authorities held shipping containers for four to five days but let alone being paid for their financial losses, drivers were left to starve.

The authorities refused to issue detention letters to the transporters and, consequently, they paid extra charges to the shipping companies, which owned the containers, out of their own pockets, he said.

At a goods terminal in Maripur on Tuesday, booking clerks told SAMAA Money that they were already facing a shortage of vehicles, and orders were not being booked even when people were willing to pay higher fares.

Long march

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