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Bribery Outrage Forces Transport Strike

Pakistan’s already-troubled textile industry can now add a  transport worker strike to its list of woes. Textile factory workers have seen major layoffs in recent months, thanks to an energy crisis that the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Chairman called “unrelenting,” and over two months of completely suspended gas supplies.

Now, a second strike of the United Goods Transporters Association (UGTA) has led to the halt of operations at two major ports–Port Qasim and Karachi Port.

Transporters striked last December over extortions from Pakistani Police and Highway Authorities; this new strike is in protest of alleged extortions from an “extortionist mafia”–transporters claim that drivers are forced to pay “bhatta,” or illegal fees, at multiple checkpoints.

If the strike continues, exporters may be forced to send goods by air, which would cut deeply into their bottom lines. Officials from the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) have called for government intervention, saying that the strike has badly damaged the industry–already, consignments are failing to reach port in time for overseas shipment.