Transporters on Saturday continued to overcharge people undertaking inter-city travel to celebrate Eidul Fitr.
As people stocked the city’s bus stands and railway station awaiting a vehicle, many reported being greeted with refusals to issue tickets unless accompanied with “Edhi.”
Muhammad Waheed, a resident of Jhang who works as an electrician in Lahore, said that he and his wife had to wait for five hours for a bus from Jhang to arrive. He said when he asked for a ticket he was told all tickets were sold out. He said, “I went to the counter and pleaded for a ticket. They asked me to pay more.”
“When I offered Rs50 extra per ticket, the man at the counter laughed,” he said. “Eventually I had to pay Rs950 per head for a ticket whose fixed price was Rs660.”
Sohaib Shah, travelling to Gujrat from Lahore, said he bought a ticket for Rs240 against the original rate of Rs180. He said he had requested the transporters to charge the original rate but it was of no avail.
Bilal Khan, travelling to Rawalpindi, said he paid Rs900 for a ticket to Islamabad against the original rate of Rs600. He said people were being loaded in buses like animals by transporters who wanted to earn as much as they could from the Eid holidays. He said the CDGL had failed to implement any minimum standards at the Lorry Adda.
Vehicle Examiner Ejaz at the Lorry Adda said around 30 buses had been challaned for overcharging. He said the government was trying its best to keep ticket rates in check. “It is people that are reluctant to lodge any complaint us against any transporter over charging,” he said.
Arshad Bhatti, the administrator of Lorry Adda, said there was no issue of over charging at the Lorry Adda. He said those found over charging had been fined. He said they had created a camp office to check overcharging and overloading. “We act immediately if a complaint is lodged,” he said.
Arshad Khan Niazi, general secretary of the All Pakistan Transport Owners Federation, said the government could control over charging if it wanted to. He said since the government does not regulate B class stands, it cannot stop them from over charging. He said people started leaving the city before Friday which eased the prices. “People started leaving early so there was less of a last day load on buses,” he said.
Another transporter on anonymity blamed the CDGL for overcharging and overloading. He said the Lorry Adda administration was charging bus operators a tax that amounted to up to one passenger ticket per bus. “The government charges a bus Rs80 to 100 in other cities but we are charged between Rs400 to 800 per bus in Lahore,” he said. He said transporters who are overcharging usually do so in collusion with the CDGL.
A number of buses allowed travelers to sit on their roof while overloading travelers inside the bus. A transporter on anonymity said, “People are ready to take the risk to get to their destination early. What are we to do?”
Markets also remained full of customers as Eid shopping hit high gear. The volume of traffic was high at many locations, including The Mall, Main Boulevard and Canal Bank Road, due the construction of the BRTS on Ferozepur Road.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.
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