RAWALPINDI, Aug 18: As usual, the inter-city transporters are overcharging home-bound commuters ahead of Eidul Fitr with district administration turning a blind eye to their miseries.
They selling ticket double the amount it used to be available in normal days, taking advantage of mad rush at the bus terminal and railway stations. Though official holidays for federal government began on Saturday, the same day was last working day in the offices of the provincial government.
Most of the people who celebrate Eid with their families have already left for their hometown on Friday while the rest thronged bus terminal or railway stations on Saturday.
Seeing the high prices of tickets of buses and wagons, most of the people turned to the railway station but there too the luck was not on their side. Despite all the odds, the number at the railway station considerably swelled in the afternoon and before Iftar as they came there to catch Eid Special train for Karachi, Lahore and Multan.
Talking to this reporter at Pirwadhai bus station, Rana Tariq, a resident of Rahimyar Khan, said that he came here to get three seats but he got a shock when he came to know that the transporters were charging Rs1,600 per seat despite the usual fare of Rs1,300.
“The actual fare is Rs550, but the transporters are demanding Rs850. I have no other option but to yield to their demand as railway system was not reliable,” Mohammad Fayyaz, a Jhang-bound commuter said.
He said absence of a check by the authorities concerned had emboldened the transporters to indulge in overcharging.
However, the transporters blamed the increase in fares on the increasing price of diesel and toll charges. They said diesel price was increased every fortnight by the government forcing them to increase the fares to keep their vehicles on the road.
Mohammad Nawaz, an owner of buses, said that the fare was increased last month but people got information of the increased fare when they went their hometown. “It is not fair to blame us for the increase in the fare because we have to run our business,” he said.
At the railway station, the people complained that they got tickets in black. They said that the railway authorities had stopped the booking of the seats for trains 10 days before the Eid.
When contacted, Divisional Superintendent (DS) Pakistan Railways Rawalpindi Syed Munawar Shah said that the railways administration had made special arrangements for Eid. He said that the railways authorities received special instructions from Prime Minister to facilitate the people on Eid days.
He said that no special train would go from Rawalpindi however, but the authorities had managed to attach more than eight extra coaches with the trains to Lahore, Multan and Karachi to cater to the rush.
“There is no issue of selling tickets in black,” he said and added that the railways had managed to sell the tickets through transparent system and earned Rs1.5 million extra during two days on Friday and Saturday.
“The railway has earned an extra Rs1 million on August 17 and Rs0.5 million on August 18. The trains accommodate the passengers according to its capacity,” he said.
Regional Transport Authority (RTA) Secretary Syed Asad Kazmi denied the charges of overcharging and said that the RTA in collaboration with city traffic police had controlled the situation and no transporter was involved in overcharging at Pirwadhai, Peshawar Road and Soan Bus terminals.