Islamabad ( 1st November 2021):- The Meeting of the Senate Standing committee on communications was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Prince Ahmad Umer Ahmadzai here at the Parliament House on Monday.
At the outset of the meeting, the committee members expressed displeasure over the absence of the concerned Minister. To ensure the presence of the Minister in the meeting, the chairman said that he would write a letter to the Chairman Senate regarding the matter of the absence and the non-serious attitude of the Minister, since matters pertaining to the National Highway is in the larger interest of the Public.
The National Highway and Motorway Police stated that the Highway fines imposed on the general public is static for the last twenty-five to thirty years. The private member bill to further amend the “The national Highway Safety Ordinance, 2000” (The National Highway Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2021) introduced by Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi in the House on 06-01-2020 and referred by the House to the committee on 25-01-2021 for re-consideration and report was also taken up. The Federal Cabinet made amendments in the Twelfth Schedule to the said ordinance through S.R.O Notification No 1418(I)/2019 dated 22nd November, 2021 and thereby enhanced the penalties for various violation falling in the said schedule. However, the increase in fines triggered grave public resentment leading to country-wide strikes of the transport sector and other stakeholders. Eventually, the enhancement Notification has to be held in abeyance indefinitely and the old schedule is still being implemented.
The National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP) agrees in principle with the enhancement of fines through appropriate amendments considering public acceptability. The NHMP representatives laid a report, proposing amendments in the fine imposed in the Bill on various offences such as relating to licenses, over speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, using vehicle in an unsafe condition, using vehicle with shaded glass, offences relating to overweight, accidents, etc. The exiting punishment regarding licenses relating offences is up to Rs. 1000 or imprisonment for up to six months the proposed punishment is extended up to two years or up to Rs 5000. Similarly, the existing fine imposed on over-speeding is Rs 500-1000 and imprisonment up to one month which is increased by 5 months imprisonment and 2500-5000. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has fine of rupees 5000-10000 and imprisonment up to one month which is extended up to five-months, and fine is increased to Rs. 25000-50000. Similarly, for vehicle in unsafe condition ,imprisonment is up to one month and fine of rupees 500-1000 is imposed which is increased to 2500-5000 rupees and five month imprisonment.
The chairman committee gave directions to constitute a 3 member sub-committee comprising of Senator Danesh Kumar and Senator Ahmed Khan under the convenorship of Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi to finalize the quantum of fine imposed in the amendment and find a mid-way consulting with stakeholders, representatives of the NHA, and reach a rational solution.
The issue of payment to the landowners whose land was acquired for the construction of road from Kaghan to Babu Sartop was also taken up. Commenting on the recommendations of the sub-committee on communications, in its previous meeting, as per sec. 23 of Land Acquisition Act 1894, the officials of the ministry said that landowners are entitled to compensation amounting to Rs. 400 million; compensation calculated on basis of one year average(2000-2001) plus 6 pc annual interest of 20 years; since possession was taken in 2001. The NHA Officials also informed the committee that the process of revision of PC-1 will he finalized in 2 months time.
The meeting was attended by Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Senator Danesh Kumar, Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar, Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem, Senator Shammim Afridi, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Hafiz Abdul Karim, Senator Umer Farooq, Senator Ahmed Khan and Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi. Senior Officials from the Ministry of communications and NHMP were also in attendance.