PESHAWAR, Aug 8: Taking advantage of the compulsion of people, who want to celebrate Eidul Fitr with their near and dear ones, the transporters are charging almost double fares on all routes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
During a visit to Haji Camp general bust stand on Thursday, people in large number were seen waiting for the public transport vehicles.
Carrying luggage and accompanied by their families, the passengers faced great hardships in getting of vehicles for their respective districts and villages.
Some of the energetic and young passengers were seen running after the vehicles, entering the stands. However, the transporters refused to charge original fare from the passengers. The operators of public transport vehicles demanded double fares, saying they belonged to Peshawar and would have to return late in the night with the empty vehicles as there would be no passenger from the other side.
The drivers of taxicabs also took advantage of the situation and remained busy in bargaining with the passengers belonging to far-flung areas of the province. A taxi driver said that in routine they carried four passengers and charged Rs500 for Mingora while Rs550 were charged for Timergara, Dir Lower, but now the fare was doubled due to Eidul Fitr. He said that taxicabs for Chitral had already left Peshawar.
Similarly, passengers coming from Karachi and Lahore also faced great problems. The workers at bus stands said that it was a routine of transporters to raise the fare on the eve of Eid because maximum of the transporters used to park vehicles for maintenance purpose.
“Our original fare from Karachi to Peshawar is Rs2,000 but we charge Rs3,000 on the eve of Eid because our vehicle will have to return empty. People are coming from Karachi to celebrate Eid with their families and rarely someone goes to Karachi on such occasions,” said Saleem Khan at Peshawar Bus Terminal.
An official of the transport department said that it was public holiday (Thursday) and none of the officials was present to check the illegal practice.
Urban Transport Union president Khan Zaman Afridi, when contacted, said that vehicles were not available. He said that transporters were forced to increase fares as there would be no passenger during the return journey.
The shortage of vehicles, Mr Afridi said, could easily be judged from the fact that in routine he issued challan to at least 200 to 250 vehicles but on Thursday only five vehicles turned up and that was why passengers had to suffer.
“We allow transporters to charge up to Rs20 extra on such occasions but those, who collect double fares, are violators and our transport union has nothing to do with those fleecing the poor passengers,” Mr Afridi said. He said that transporters were also facing serious financial problems owing to the government policies. He said that they were forced to reduce the number of CNG cylinders and avoid using local gas cylinders. “We have to purchase imported (Italian) cylinders and install one on the top and one inside the vehicle,” he said.
Mr Afridi said that the new policy was a golden opportunity for police to exploit transporters. “We have started implementation of the decision,” he claimed.