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Sit-in held in Thatta against 'unjustified' toll tax.

THATTA -- Activists of Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, members of civil society and general public staged a sit-in outside the offices of deputy commissioner in Makli here on Monday in protest against recovery of 'unjustified' toll tax on the Thatta-Hyderabad section of the National Highway and high-handedness of the recovery staff.

The protesters later held a meeting with Deputy Commissioner Usman Tanveer and complained that there was no justification for the toll tax being taken from motorists, poor villagers and vendors and small traders who had to use the road daily multiple times.

The DC said that he had recently seized the toll tax recovery box and other paraphernalia and warned the staff to shun the practice but the staff soon came up with a letter issued by the department concerned and resumed the practice.

He said the obvious reason behind the toll tax appeared to be the fact that the provincial government shut down Sassui Toll Plaza in Karachi's Malir district set up for the recovery of tax for Karachi-Thatta highway after the National Highway Authority developed it into dual carriageway.

The authority then turned towards Thatta-Hyderabad single track and started recovering tax on the road despite the fact that the road was never developed properly and could not be considered fit for toll tax recovery, he said.

The protesters complained that even Suzuki pick-ups carrying poor passengers from village to village and peasants towards their fields, patients towards healthcare facilities and the vehicles carrying dead bodies towards graveyards were not spared.

They said individuals at the toll plaza recently attacked a villager and broke his limbs and beat up two to three passersby who were still missing.

The DC immediately contacted director of NHA and informed him about the protesters' complaints. He also advised them to send their case to high-ups. The protesters responded that they planned to file a petition in court in this regard and the DC offered them to make him a party in the case.

The protesters dispersed peacefully after registering their protest.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Mar 19, 2019
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