ISLAMABAD / RAWALPINDI: The reduction in prices of petrol and CNG by up to 10.5% will likely not translate into lower transport fares. Transporters in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Saturday said they will not reverse the recent increase in charges.
On May 31, the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) issued a notification increasing fares from Rs13 to Rs 15 for a distance of four kilometres, Rs18 to Rs20 for eight kilometres, Rs22 to Rs25 for 14 kilometres, Rs25 to Rs30 for 22 kilometres, Rs27 to Rs35 for 30 kilometres and Rs40 for over 30 kilometres.
Similarly, the Islamabad Transport Authority (ITA) increased the stop to stop fares from Rs12 to Rs15. The cost of travelling from Aabpara to Bhara Kahu increased from Rs20 to Rs25, while the cost of a trip from F-8 to Aabpara was increased from Rs23 to Rs35.
On Friday the government announced to cut petrol and CNG prices by up to Rs10.46 per litre and Rs4.37 per kilogram respectively, following a fall in global oil prices.
Following the announcement, commuters were hoping this would translate to lower fares.
“The hike in fares should be reversed as people are already perturbed by inflation and increasing costs of living,” said Ahmed Ali Khan, who commutes between the twin cities on a daily basis.
Khan currently spends between Rs70 and Rs100 on transport and he believes if fares are kept reasonable people would prefer public transport over private cars.
Muhammad Zeeshan, teacher at a private school, said, “In the present scenario it is better to travel on your own car instead of using public transport.”
The unwilling transporters
Transporters, on the other hand, have a different story to tell. Rehmat Khan, a van driver, said they last increased the fares in January 2010.
“The petrol and CNG prices were Rs68 per litre and Rs44 per kg respectively back then. With fuel prices doubling in two years, fares should be much higher than what we are charging at the moment,” he said.
Terming the fuel price cuts as “too little and too late”, All Pakistan Transporters Association President Malik Sultan Awan said they were not enough to decrease transport fares.
“Fares depend not just on fuel prices as there are several other expenses such as maintenance of vehicles besides the wages of drivers and conductors,” he explained.
RTA Rawalpindi Secretary Syed Asad Kazmi also ruled out the possibility of reversing fare hikes.
“Fuel price is just one of the factors determining transport fares. The overall cost of business has increased during the past two years and in the current scenario the rates cannot be reversed,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources in the Islamabad Capital Territory administration have disclosed that the fares in the capital were increased without the approval of the Deputy Commissioner (DC).
“[Islamabad Transport Authority Secretary Khawaja Maqbool] held a meeting with transporters in the absence of the DC and decided to increase the fares without his input,” said an offcial.
DC Amir Ali Ahmed told The Express Tribune that he was on leave and unaware of any such development. He said he will take stern action against Maqbool if he was found guilty of giving undue favours to the transporters.
“There is already a departmental inquiry going on against him and if his involvement in the hike is confirmed he will have to face action,” said DC Ahmed.
He added that he will hold a meeting on Monday to review the fares charged by transporters.
Maqbool was not available to comment on the issue despite repeated attempts.
Meanwhile, there was a clash between a group of commuters and transporters in Bhara Kahu on Saturday, where a conductor of Route 127 failed to provide the new fare list to commuters.
Locals in Bhara Kahu also warned of launching a massive protest against “unjustified increase in fares by transporters.” A similar protest was held in the area when fares were increased two years back.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2012.
More in PakistanPoisoned: Property dispute claims woman’s life