ISLAMABAD: Transporters have started overcharging people who are leaving the city and going to their hometowns to celebrate Eidul Azha.
“I used to pay Rs150 to go to my hometown Mansehra, but now I have to pay Rs200,” said Faizan Khalid, a commuter at Faizabad bus stop. Another commuter, Sardar Khalid Abbasi said, “Despite the high fares I am compelled to travel to my hometown on Eid as my children insist on spending the religious festival in their native village,” while leaving towards Bagh in Azad Kashmir, along with his five family members. My family feels at ease by celebrating Eid with their dear ones, he added.
Talking to The Express Tribune, an official of Sargan Transport Company at Pir Wadahi, Amjad, said that the company is forced to charge higher fares from customers during Eid holidays as they have to hire more busses and wagons at higher costs to meet the demands of such a large number of commuters. He said that the inflated fuel prices have added to the increase in transport fares.
However, a segment of people of the low income group who belong to far-off areas have started preferring to spend these religious festivals in the capital city due to an “unprecedented price-hike” in transport fares. Commuters at Pir Wadahi, Faizabad and Karachi company bus terminals have complained that transporters charge much higher prices from people, especially from those who are travelling to far flung areas.
Asad Khan, who is hails from Karar village of K-P, said, “Celebrating Eid in our native places is also culturally significant as we also have to offer prayers for our departed family members on the eve of such religious festivals.” He said that Eid provides a “breathing space” for people of the working class along with their children who spend some days in their native areas and present gift to their relatives. But this time around he has not bought gifts for his relatives for Eid because of high inflation.
Shopkeepers in Islamabad feel that as Eid is approaching, the city has started wearing a deserted look. “The roads have less traffic and the markets less shoppers,” said Arif Khan, a shopkeeper in G-9 market. He said that he was noew receiving fewer customers as everyone is leaving for their hometowns.
Such sites are common to Islamabad during Eid and other public holidays as it is a newly developed city and has a small native population. The majority of the inhabitants belong to Azad Kashmir, Hazara division, Murree and different areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab, who leave for their hometowns on such festivals.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2010.
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