The taxi drivers are reaping a bonanza and charging exorbitant fares from passengers yearning to return to their hometowns as most buses have already left before the ban on intercity transport.
Those wanting to spend Eid with family back home were left stranded as buses began leaving and had no option except to pay the astronomical fares demanded by private taxi drivers.
Even though in the purview of Eidul Fitr, the government had allowed special operations of intercity public transport on weekends, businesses and bus terminals across Rawalpindi remained shut on the second day of the province-wide lockdown on Sunday.
The bus terminals at Faizabad, Sawan and others were closed with barricades erected on entry points. This situation served as a boon to taxi drivers who made hay and charged exorbitant fares from families wanting to return to their hometowns.
A passenger, who was looking to hire transport for Sialkot, told The Express Tribune that the usual fare from Rawalpindi to Sialkot was Rs1,000. However, in absence of public transport, the taxi drivers were charging Rs 7,000.
Arif said taxi drivers were demanding Rs2,500 for Lahore while Shaukat Abbasi, who wanted to reach Abbottabad with his family, said that private taxi drivers were charging up to Rs700 per passenger, which was extremely high.
The officials of regional transport authorities of the twin cities, commenting on the situation, said that the government had permitted public transport to operate during weekends. However, most people had already left for their hometown which could possibly be the reason transporters did not run the service.
Subsequently, the people have demanded that the government arrange transport for them instead of merely making announcements.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2021.
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