13th January 2005 at NHA-Auditorium, Islamabad.
Organized by: Road Assets Management Directorate, National Highway Authority Islamabad
National Highway Authority organized a Stakeholder Consultation on 13th January 2005 at its auditorium in Islamabad for creating awareness about importance of Toll Revenue and control on Axle Load. Representatives of Transport Unions, Transporters, Business Community, Drivers, Manufactures, Educationists, Lawyers, Media, and Road Users from all over the country participated in the workshop. Officials from NHA headquarters and all regional offices also attended.
Participants were told that to increase economic growth, reduce the poverty rate and for providing the basic necessities of comfortable and safer roads to users National Highway Authority came in existence in 1991 with a broader vision “to provide the integrated highway network which is able to support people and goods movement in a safe, efficient reliable predictable, equitable and in a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable manner”.
Both Formal presentations at this consultation workshop were given by Major General Farrukh Javed, Chairman National Highway Authority. Asif Khawaja, of ARUP, as event coordinator gave details about the purpose of workshop, conduct procedure and days programme. Chairman then welcomed the participants, gave presentations on “Toll Revenues” and “Axle Load Control” and answered questions of road users. After the formal presentations long Question and Answer session was held and all questions were answered by Chairman NHA and Member (Operations). Later Representatives of Road Users from each province also addressed the gathering, presented the recommendations and thanked NHA for holding this consultation process on two important issues. Recommendations were finalized through discussions. General Manager (Operation) concluded the session by thanking all the participants for their efforts and inputs.
Through the first formal presentation on Toll Revenue participants were provided detailed information about road network, its state and explained that:
- Highways are our valuable and national assets and are the main attributor to fundamental ingredient of economic as well as positive social change.
- Pakistan in 1947 had 50000 kilometres network of roads and total registered vehicles were above 21000. But Pakistan has developed its road network to meet the traffic and communication needs of country and 256,000 kilometres length of roads have been developed.
- NHA is managing only 9000 km of national highways and motorways but this network caters for 80% of traffic load. These roads have been improved after a dedicated sincere effort by NHA through NHIP & NHRP.
- Transportation of more than 95% goods and 90 % of the total passenger traffic in Pakistan is through roads.
- Contribution of Pakistan Railway had been just 8% for passenger and 5% for freight transportation.
- Other highways and roads now need to be developed to accomplish the traffic needs.
- There at present exists a communication gap, which is definitely hindering NHA’s target of equal development in all regions of Pakistan.
- National Highway Authority is striving hard to maintain old roads and develop new networks to minimize this communication gap.
- Equal development in all parts of Pakistan will facilitate new horizons of social development and friendship among all sections of society.
- Maintenance plan of all highways and planned maintenance activities with anticipated expenditure was also presented and discussed with the stakeholders.
- Poorly maintained roads were the symbol of poor economy and better developed roads are a must for developing economy.
- Pakistan Government had to face more Rs 240 billion losses due to poor condition of roads.
- Because of accidents annually more than 7000 lives are lost and these accidents cause further losses of over Rs 40 billion.
- National Highways Authority has devised a plan to facilitate the passengers and all other road users by creating service centres comprising of facilities like emergency calling centres, refreshment points and services area for all road users and long route drivers.
- Participants were told that Highways and Motorways required bulk investment and timely provision of funds for their maintenance and rehabilitation.
- Revenue collected by toll Tax is much less in quantity in comparison to maintenance expenditures yet the total collected amount is being spent on maintenance of roads.
- Road Roughness Index during the past few years has shown a tremendous improvement from and has resulted in safer, cheaper and comfortable travel.
- Government had approved revised tariff rates in 1999 but NHA feeling its responsibility of providing better roads for safer travel undertook the task of first improving the highways and then increasing tariff rates.
- Present and proposed rates of toll were presented and deliberated upon with the participants.
- Now after almost six years of continuous efforts towards improving highways management of NHA felt that the time has arrived for revising the tariff rates and decided to consult the stakeholders for the same.
During the consultation process stakeholders expressed their views on:
Number of taxes paid by transporters and suggested that some facilities for the transporters are urgently needed to facilitate sustainability of this important business.
Policing behaviour of the traffic and motorway police (NH&MP) and many of the participants expressed their concern that NH&MP is performing more like an enforcing agency and not as a facilitator. They were of the view that Heavy Transport Vehicles are being fined by them on highways for any stopping even on the side of the highway.
Few participants voiced their concerns on fortnightly change in fuel price as under this system financial planning of the passage was becoming difficult for many transporters.
Stakeholders appreciated NHA’s recent activities of consulting stakeholders in all parts of the country on important matters.
The participants expressed their satisfaction over the details and information presented to them about toll, maintenance expenditure, annual maintenance plan and proper utilization of available financial resources for maintenance & rehabilitation of roads.
They appreciated NHA decision of delaying the increase in Toll Tariff till improvement in the condition of roads was visible and expressed their satisfaction on improved road quality, better services, and safer travel. They agreed to the proposal of revised increased uniform rates of toll on highways.
During the second formal presentation on “Axle Load Control” participants were informed about dangers due to overloading, reduction in technical life of highways and other similar effects requiring more maintenance expenditures. They were presented with details about:
- Earlier decisions in meetings with transporters on installation of weigh bridges and enforcing effective axle load control.
- Transporters proposal of various facilities and requirements before starting axle load control.
- Earlier decision of the transporters to abide by the manufacturers recommendations of number of kumanis and local rules of permissible weight limits.
- Loading conditions of Pakistani trucks and their comparison with similar regional and international vehicles.
- Overloading was the major cause of breakdown of roads.
- Pakistani truck drivers were habitual to pick the 22 times the load that was being observed in USA.
- This attitude of overloading was contributing towards the reduction of technical life of roads.
- Effects on road surface due overloading in different terrain conditions.
- Increase in maintenance cost and repeated urgent maintenance activities due to damages caused by over loading.
- There was utmost need to mobilize both drivers and business community to observe the limitations of loads during transportation because overloading decreases the technical life of roads and highways.
Many questions were asked by road users and transporters from all parts of Pakistan and they expressed their concern over this important subject. Stakeholders present at the workshop were of the view that:
Strict action must be initiated against defaulters and this action should even include impounding of vehicle.
Present system of fining only the driver of the vehicle needs reconsideration and all stakeholders should be included in this campaign accordingly fine should also be imposed on terminal operators of defaulting vehicle at starting city and destination.
Toll rates presently are for type of vehicle and in due course of time the same needs to be charged on weight actually carried by that type of vehicle.
After a detailed Q&A session it was agreed to hold a separate similar consultation session only on Axle Load Control.
In the end Member (Operations) told the participants that their views and recommendations would be helpful to devise the comprehensive plan regarding designing, construction, repairing and rehabilitation of National Highways Network. There is need to create realization and commitment to preserve national assets. For bright future and better roads, society must play their role individually and collectively.
He thanked the participants for their active participation in this consultation workshop on two very important subjects.
In the end session, stakeholders through discussions suggested following recommendations in the context of Toll Revenue, Axle Load Control and other road matters for better and safer travel on roads. Brief detail is given below.
Toll Revenue Related:
- In view of positions and working explained by NHA, revised uniform rates of toll are acceptable.
- Increase of Toll Rates and their country wide application is accepted by the stakeholders.
- Toll Tax collection system should be transparent and efficient.
- Urgent steps must be taken to reduce Illegal collection of toll tax.
- Toll rate should be standardized all over the country.
- Toll rate should be applicable on weight actually carried by vehicle of every category.
- Toll plaza should be constructed at proper sites to achieve the target of maximum revenue collection.
- Service centres should be constructed along with toll plazas.
- Service centres should contain emergency calling centres, refreshment points and other facilities to ensure the road safety and comfortable traveling by all road users especially the long route travelers.
Axle Load Control:
- Axle load should be reduced for each category of vehicle to sustain the technical life of roads
- Create awareness among drivers and other key players about losses due to overloading so that they can refuse to drive the overloaded vehicles.
- Standardized weigh equipment must be practiced on all weigh stations.
- Introduce the more than two axle trucks instead of Bedford trucks.
- Separate consultation session be held before enforcing full axle load control on highways
Other Road Matters:
- Fine should be imposed to the users who violate the road safety rules.
- License should be cancelled of those drivers who violated the traffic rules.
- Reflectors need to be fixed on all turns of highways and joining roads.
- Highway and Motorway police must change their attitude and should perform as a service provider as compared to present role of an enforcing agency.
- Parking or stopping rules on highways need to be revised.
- Education campaign on awareness on traffic rules is urgently needed.
- Create awareness among business communities, drivers and road users through media campaign (electronic and print), handbills, booklets, seminars, capacity building training workshops etc about road safety.
- Awareness campaigns regarding importance of road, use of road and road safety should be launched at district level.
-Published on pages#-34-35-36-37-38 February-2005 issue of MOBILE WORLD Magazine