A huge rush of people is to be seen at bus terminals in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi as people get ready to leave to spend Eid with their families and loved ones in villages and small towns.
The crowd thronging the bus terminals are mostly migrant workers and residents headed towards their native places to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.
With the announcement of the closure of bus terminals from next week due to Covid-19 lockdown, a large number of people were seen crowding inter-city bus terminals at Faizabad, Pirwadhai, Soan and Peshawar More and Karachi Company.
Every year on these special occasions, like both Eids, transporters use this opportunity to fleece passengers, said a worker heading to Lahore. The exchange of harsh words between passengers and transport owners while booking tickets were witnessed at almost every bus stand as the transporters were overcharging, said a resident while talking to a private news channel.
A passenger going to Karachi commented that the staff of Faizabad bus terminal had denied him a seat and after an argument demanded that he pay double the fare. Another passenger going from Rawalpindi to Lahore said the bus service was giving priority to those with references or those paying double otherwise they were denying comfortable seats to families.
The people always bear the burden of extra expenses on Eid but this year due to the Covid situation the transporters at these terminals are fleecing passengers and violating Covid SOPs while ferrying their passengers, said a citizen.
A resident of Rawalpindi said he had travelled from Karachi Company to Wazirabad on a local bus for the first time and said transporters are doing nothing to control the rush of people at bus stands nor enforcing Covid-19 SOPs.
An employee, who took leave early for Eid due to fear of lockdown said he had to face this problem every year during the two Eids but this year he felt anxiety due to the couldn’t care less behaviour of transporters and passengers not taking precautions against covid or wearing masks.
The transporters management when contacted denied that bus owners were overcharging passengers and asserted that they were strictly following Covid guidelines for travellers and they had to run empty buses on their way back on the routes as due to coronavirus mostly preferred to celebrate Eid in the twin cities instead of visiting their hometowns.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2021.