Differing from Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, center, authorities say it is not feasible amid rising spread of COVID-19
The Sindh government on Friday said that it would not follow Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in allowing public transport to resume in the province, saying the current situation of rapid spread of coronavirus did not permit it.
In a statement after a nationally televised address in which Prime Minister Imran Khan appealed for public transport to be reopened nationwide to “help the impoverished,” Sindh Transport Minister Syed Awais Shah said it appeared the premier had not consulted with any experts before sharing his thoughts on the risks posed by the novel coronavirus.
“As the P.M. of the country we respect his views and suggestions,” he said. “But we can’t allow public transport services. We are seeing cases rising every day and in this situation it would be absolutely a wrong decision to allow buses and other vehicles of public transport on roads to add risk to the people’s lives,” he added.
Referring to the horrifying death toll of Italy, compared to the situation in China’s Wuhan where the virus originated but was brought under control through strict lockdowns, he questioned which state the P.M. wanted Pakistan to emulate.
Citing repeated violations of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and government guidelines by traders and citizens when the lockdown was relaxed earlier this week, he said a visible spike in cases had been observed. He said a similar situation was visible at various industrial units that had been allowed to resume operations, as many failed to fulfill their commitments and follow social distancing guidelines.
The Sindh government was the first to ban all kinds of public transport in the third week of March.
“The P.M. himself has admitted that the SOPs are being ignored while the lockdown is relaxed. We appeal to the PM to coordinate with provinces for joint efforts. This is high time to save lives of the people not for politics,” said Shah.
Sindh currently has 14,916 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 3,606 recoveries and 255 deaths, leaving 11,055 active cases. The majority are in provincial capital Karachi, which would avail public transport the most, justifying the cautious approach taken by the province in easing restrictions.