Now that’s what you call a ‘highway robbery’! | Pakistan Today

Now that’s what you call a ‘highway robbery’!

  • Public van transporters do not display schedule of fares on vehicles, charge commuters at will, alter routes, resulting in troubles for citizens
  • ITP sector in-charge pledges to ensure that transporters display fare schedule

With no system of checks and balances in place, the citizens of federal capital have been left at the mercy of public transporters who charge the commuters at will.
During a survey of the public transports in Islamabad, Pakistan Today found that not a single van or bus has affixed approved schedule of fares which is causing a continuous tussle between commuters and the transporters. In the schedule’s absence, the commuters are forced to pay whatever fare the conductor demands.
There are 17 public transport routes approved by the capital’s Regional Transport Authority (RTA) for the convenience of the commuters who travel on vans and buses. There are three approved routes for buses (routes no 101, 104, 104-A), three approved routes for Suzuki Vans (routes no 113, 115 & 133) and 11 approved routes for Hi Ace Vans (routes no 105, 105-A, 120, 121, 122, 122A, 124, 127, 127A, 136 and 138).
Mushtaq Masih, a commuter who was travelling on a route 120 van from Aabpara to Karachi Company (G-9), told this scribe that the conductor demanded Rs 25 as fare from him while according to his own knowledge it was only Rs 18. When he asked the conductor to show him the schedule, the conductor plainly refused and threatened him to dislodge him from the van. He was left with no option but to pay the overcharged fare, Masih said.
Another commuter, Muhammad Ali said that he wanted to travel to Golra Sharif on a route 120 van from Sitara Market but the conductor only allowed him to travel up to G-9 saying that the van will not go further to Golra. However, when he came down the van, the same conductor started to load new passengers for Golra just to double the fare.
When this scribe lodged passengers’ complaints with the Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) Sector In-charge Farooq Khan Niazi, he admitted that there were complaints against the transporters and they were trying to address these issues.
When he was told that the public transporters were not affixing schedule of fares on the vehicles, he denied it saying that there could be a few such vans but not all of them. However, when this scribe took him to 10 vans one by one parked at G-9 terminal, Niazi was all apologetic and pledged to rectify the situation.
On the other hand, Transport Union President Haji Malik Nawab Khan admitted that despite their continuous reminders, the van owners do not affix schedule of fares. “Though we provide the public with very cheap transport facility but we also have problems of our own; we are not allowed CNG from many gas stations in the city, we also face harsh treatment from the police officials,” Khan explained.
“Our schedule of fare has not been revised since February 4, 2013 despite repeated increase in price of CNG and petrol. We demand from the government to provide us CNG on preferential basis as is done in Lahore in case of Metro Bus,” a defiant Khan told.
It is also important to note that the capital city administration has not appointed a permanent RTA for the last three years, leaving the affairs of the transport regulation in the hands of part time officers who already have heavy work load of their own port folios.
It has been learnt that affairs of the RTA and Motor Vehicle Examiner are run by a clerk, Inaamullah, who is single-handedly managing two important public interest departments.

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