Shuttle service: KU students protest increased bus fares

Five-rupee increase has been temporarily withdrawn by the VC until a final decision is made


Our Correspondent February 01, 2016
The fares of the University of Karachi points bus service have increased in recent years, much to the dismay of the students. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The University of Karachi's (KU) points buses left the university premises an hour late on Monday due to a protest by students, along with members of Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT), against the increase in the university bus fares to Rs15 from Rs10 on January 4.

The students chanted slogans and displayed placards against the university administration for increasing the fares by 50 per cent. "The university has taken back the increased fares temporarily and will issue a notification after the final decision from the vice chancellor (VC)," KU's transport convener Professor Dr Mudasiruddin told The Express Tribune. He added that they will charge Rs10 until the VC issues a fresh notification.

I have spoken to the protesting students and have come up with a solution that won't make the 8,000 students using the bus from 28 points suffer due to the protest, said KU's campus security adviser Dr Muhammad Zubair. He said the decision has been taken to make sure the bus service works efficiently and students do not suffer due to the protests. "I asked them to resolve the matter [within] the ongoing week," he added.

Meanwhile IJT's information secretary Ukasha Mustafa said that the fares should be decreased as there has been a cut in fuel prices in the country. "We met the VC on Friday with our newly elected nazim and he assured us that the fares will be brought back to Rs10," he explained, adding that Monday's protest was to make the university administration realise that the fares were not affordable for all.

The protest at the university points terminal gained momentum when news channels aired the protest and the matter was taken to the VC, Professor Dr Muhammad Qaiser. "The VC announced [the decision] to take back the increased fares until a final decision has been taken in this case," Dr Zubair added.

An increase of Rs5 is not much when the same students spend Rs15 on a samosa at the university, said the campus security adviser. "They spend 100s of rupees on food and protest for Rs5 on points," he criticised, adding that students found it easy to protest.

Students occupied a portion of the road in front of the applied chemistry department, chanting slogans of 'points kirae mein izafa wapas lo' [take back the increase in the points bus fares] and holding placards demanding fares to be brought back to Rs5, which was the fare in 2012, said a microbiology student. "The conductor charged Rs10 today," she confirmed.

"We did not know what was happening; we just waited, seated in the buses, for more than an hour and watched," said another student who travels on the bus every day. The protesters were not letting the buses go and were sitting on the roads and protesting, she added.

Apart from KU, other public sector universities, including Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC), NED University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET)and Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), also have university bus services which charge monthly or yearly fees from students. NEDUET charges Rs500 per month to issue a student bus card, while KMDC and DUHS have yearly systems and charge Rs12,000 and 11,500 respectively.  "Students pay for points at the time of yearly fees and can have a card to avail the university bus facility for the whole academic year," said DUHS spokesperson Javed Ahmed.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2016.

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