Public transporters fleecing out-of-towners

RAWALPINDI: People book their seat and bus stand as a large number of people leaving for their native hometown to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with their loved ones. INP PHOTO by Raja Imran

Even though the government kept the petroleum products (POL) prices unchanged, public transporters as usual overcharged the people going to their native cities to celebrate Eidul Fitr with their loved ones.

The rush at the railway station, general bus stand at Pirwadai, Karachi Company, Faizabad and other bus terminals increased tremendously on the eve of Eid with passengers complaining of being fleeced by the transporters, something that is not unusual on this occasion.

Keeping in mind the mass exodus, the transport owners started minting money by increasing fares considerably. A limited number of vehicles also forced the commuters to pay extra money to get seats to have a comfortable journey.

The transporters exploited the situation in their favour and overcharged the commuters, as bus stands at various places of the city observed tens of thousands of people moving out of the city.

Bus terminals visited by Pakistan Today correspondent showed that massive rush of people returning to their home towns could be seen, but many of the passengers complained that the transporters had increased the fare on the pretext of collecting Eidi.

The passengers said several transport companies categorically refused them booking seats by saying that they had completed booking up to Eid, so at present no seat is available. However, their agents quite easily made the impossible task possible by bargaining with the passengers and provided them with a seat at a higher cost.

“We have no option but to go to our native villages to celebrate Eid with our families, so keeping this in mind, the transporters are exploiting us with impunity,” said one of the passengers.

It was observed that the people wanting to leave the city with the families seemed more worried pertaining to their journey due to the transporters’ hostile attitude towards passengers.

The people who could afford overcharging could be seen buying tickets; however, the poor were seen complaining loudly against what they called an illegal action of the transporters, but to no avail.

“I have been waiting to board a bus for Lahore for the past four hours because I am being asked to pay double the normal fare,” said Hasnat, a passenger.

The dejected passenger said that since, he is a poor man; he could not afford to do so and that is why he had no choice but to wait for a better deal.

Transporters often carry extra passengers in violation of the traffic rules, as many of them risking their lives by travelling atop the buses, but the police ignore the issue.

“This is how I make it to my home on Eid each year,” said Arshad, as the bus slowly began to move out of the station.

Passengers criticised the authorities for failing to stop the transporters from indulging in these illegal activities.

They were of the view that the transporters could not overcharge the computers, but there must be some secret understanding between the transporters and the high-ups in the police officials, otherwise how could they carry out the illegal practice right under their noses.

However, the representatives of the transport authorities made their own justifications for overhanging the passengers, who told that although the practice of overhanging the commuters seems odd, it was just to cover the expected loss.

They went on to say that vehicles will return empty so who will compensate the transporters.

When this scribe phoned Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Rawalpindi at his office number, he angrily said that they have no authority to send the transporters behind bars, but could impose fine on them.

He said that the police officials are present at every bus stand to address the public complaints forthwith; however, no is one ready to lodge complaints against the transporters, fearing it might delay their departure.

When asked if they could not see the difficulties being faced by the passengers, he replied that they had nothing to do with fixing the transport fares.