Two reductions in petroleum prices in just a month are pointless for commuters if they fail to translate into lower fares. However, the transporters of the twin cities are reluctant to pass on the benefit to the public due to the absence of oversight.
Despite the unprecedented cut in the prices of petroleum products in mid-June, local transporters increased fares a day before they were notified. The government has again approved yet another summary for reducing petroleum products, but the transporters are sticking to their guns.
They had increased rates by Rs3 from one stop to the next and an increase of Rs10 to get from one end to another, which is obviously an extra burden on commuters, said Ali, who travels from Rawalpindi to Islamabad on a daily basis.
Public transport in the twin cities is interconnected to a great extent and any raise in fares in the garrison city directly affects the federal capital.
This time, transporters in connivance with the authorities increased fares days before the reduction in petroleum prices and refused to revise them despite public protests.
Transporters believe as fares had not been increased since 2010, despite hikes in petroleum prices, they are justified in sticking with the new rates, it has been learnt.
On Friday, representatives of Secretariat Employees Association called on the deputy commissioner Islamabad and conveyed the concerns of government employees who use public transport. “We complained that despite the increase in fares, there is no improvement in the transport system. Drivers and conductors misbehave with passengers and even beat them up at times,” Taqi Jawaid said.
President Islamabad Transport Welfare Association Malik Nawab said, “We are following the fares set by the Rawalpindi Regional Transport Authority as the twin cities’ transport basically originates from the garrison city.”
He said that there is no profit margin for transporters even after the increase as fares had not been increased since 2010.
“Now we will see the new notification and reduce the fares if there is a significant cut like the previous one, he said.
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmed said he had assured representatives of the Secretariat Employees Association and other delegations to resolve their problems by taking up the issue with transporters.
“We will hold a meeting with transporters and Rawalpindi Transport Authority next week after the implementation of new petroleum prices and try to reach an agreement,” he added. Basically, the authorities in Islamabad have to follow the fares decided by the Punjab government since the public transport originates from there, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.
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