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ISLAMABAD: Bus terminals in the twin cities were overcrowded with passengers on Tuesday, the start of the official holidays, as residents headed towards their hometowns to celebrate Eid with their families.

People could be seen with their luggage, waiting at the major bus stops, including Peshawar Mor, Faizabad, Pirwadhai, G-9 bus stand and Saddar, where people were paying double fare to secure a seat.

Many of the passengers on Tuesday had sent their families to their hometowns ahead of the holidays and were joining them now that the holidays have started.

Some passengers said public transporters were charging extra for the same journey.

Residents who have to stay behind due to their jobs face trouble finding conveyance as transporters ply vehicles on longer routes

A government employee from Hyderabad, Ayub Jamali said his family went home on Friday but he stayed back due to his job and that he could not get a ticket, even for double the fare.

Another passenger, Awais, said he reserved a seat two days earlier because he knew it would get crowded.

Saadat Hussain, who was looking for a bus for Gujranwala, appeared angry and said the bus service was giving priority to those with references or those paying double.

He said there are already extra expenses on Eid including sacrificial animals, new clothes and shoes and other household expenses and that double fare adds to the burden.

Sikandar Alam, who works for a bus service in Faizabad, said they were providing seats on a first come, first serve basis but admitted they were short on vehicles due to the large number of passengers.

A resident of Rawalpindi, Hassan Khalid said he had travelled from Lahore on a local bus for the first time and said transporters are fleecing passengers, urging authorities to keep an eye on the practice.

Drivers said they have reasons for overcharging, such as high fuel prices and tickets. They said they are on duty during Eid and that they should be able to charge extra if they cannot spend the holidays with their families.

On the other hand, many local transporters are providing services on longer routes during the holidays as they pay better and residents are facing problems in finding conveyance for shorter commutes.

Those who have to work during the holidays such as security personnel, fuel station workers, doctors and other medical staff, toll plaza employees, sanitary workers and media persons say they are finding difficulties in finding local transport and have to rely on local transport.

An ambulance service employee, Asad Farooq said he has to face this problem every year during the two Eids.

An employee of a government hospital, Aslam Khawar said the metro bus service helps during such days but it is not available in all areas in the twin cities.

He urged the government to take appropriate steps for providing uninterrupted public transport.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2018