Earlier this month, I was travelling from Sukkur to Karachi via a well-maintained and air-conditioned van, which was a relief because most vans or buses are in deplorable conditions. During the journey, we stopped at a hotel near Hala for a while, so that the passengers can buy food and water. Like others, I went to one of the shops and took some eatables. When I went to the cashier to pay for my items, he charged me almost double the original amount. I refused to pay the high amount and urged the shopkeeper to show me the rate list.
To my surprise, the shopkeeper said that many reputable individuals come to his shop and never argue about prices. Therefore, I can either take the items at his given rate or leave. Unfortunately, all other passengers stood as mere bystanders ignoring the unlawful conduct of the shopkeeper. Having little choice, I purchased the items and left. This experience made me acknowledge the lawlessness in society and the inability of people to correct others’ unjust practices. This also reveals that retailers near bus stands exploit passengers and illicitly earn higher profits.
Considering that we already have a poor transportation system and unlike myself, most people cannot afford air-conditioned vans, these looting sellers are further adding to the miseries of the travellers. In addition to the drivers’ misconduct and unsafe driving, passengers are also forced to either arrange for their own food and water or travel without it. The relevant authorities should consider these issues and address them effectively. Besides reforming the transport system, shops and restaurants on the highways and bus stands must be given fixed price lists, which they should adhere to.
Nazir Ahmed Kubar
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2022.