RAWALPINDI: The local transporters have raised their fares without authorisation by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA), claiming to compensate for the increase in price of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
The federal government recently increased the price of CNG from Rs59/kg to Rs66/kg in the Potohar region that includes five districts of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal and Jehlum. With the hike in CNG, the transporters especially plying Suzuki vans on different routes in the city and cantonment areas are fleecing commuters by demanding higher fares.
Discussions with a number of commuters and the transporters in Sadaar area revealed that the fare on short distanced routes starting from cantonment to different areas has increased from Rs15 to Rs20.
“The transporters are demanding Rs15 from Sadaar to Kamalabad on a Saturday whereas the RTA fare is Rs12 for the same distance,” said a van driver, Hadayat Ali, quoting the hike in CNG prices as the reason for the increase in fare.
“When I asked the driver to show the fare rates issued by RTA, I was told that transporters are negotiating with the transport authorities to increase the rates,” said Azam Ali who wanted to reach Tench Bhatta from Saddar.
On the other hand Muhammad Anwar, a driver of the pick-up said it had become difficult for them to save enough daily especially when the supply of the CNG remained suspended. “We are forced to give higher fares on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as the drivers use petrol, and now after the recent raise in CNG prices it has become harder to afford the existing fare rates even on normal days,” said the driver.
Central President Suzuki Union Rawalpindi Raja Bashir said the authorities had not raised transport fares and transporters demanding more money from commuters was unwarranted. The union will take action against any driver found violating the rules and asked the commuters to make sure they filed complaints to the union offices.
The representative of the transporters said so far there has been no increase in the fares, neither were they negotiating with RTA to raise them.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.