KARACHI: The provincial transport department seems to be having a hard time making public transport owners charge official fares that had been set after the dramatic reduction in CNG prices.
The Supreme Court had on October 26 declared the existing mechanism for reviewing CNG prices with oil prices “illegal”. Within hours of that decision, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority reduced CNG prices by Rs30.38 in Sindh and Punjab, bringing it down to Rs54.16 per kilogramme. The provincial transport department, after holding detailed talks with transporters, had cut public transport fares by up to 20% on November 1. The minimum fare for minibuses had been reduced to Rs10 from Rs14, while that for coaches was brought down to Rs17 from Rs19. Coaches that used to charge Rs20 had been directed to charge Rs18. Fares for inter-city buses and vans have also been cut by 20 and 30 per cent respectively.
However, in clear violation of the government’s directive, transporters continue to charge the previous fares from passengers. Their explanation? We have not received revised fare lists from the transport department, claims a witty conductor of Abdullah Coach, which runs between Baldia Town and Korangi.
When contacted, chairman of the city’s principal public transport body, Irshad Bukhari, acknowledges that the Karachi Transport Ittehad has received complaints of overcharging by minibus and coach drivers. “Large buses, however, have been charging reduced fares from the first day,” claimed Bukhari. Perhaps to sideline himself from his wayward troops, Bukhari added that KTI itself was an association of different transport unions, and that he does not directly deal with coach and minibus owners.
Senior vice president of Muslim Minibuses and Coaches, Tawab Khan, told The Express Tribune that they would take action against members who do not charge the reduced fares, and advised passengers to call them up to register their complaints. He added that ever since the apex court decreased CNG prices, most of the CNG stations in the city remain closed for one reason or another.
Sindh transport deputy secretary Ali Nawaz Panhwar said that they had forwarded the complaints they received to secretary of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA). The RTA has detained over 100 vehicles whose drivers were overcharging passengers, claimed Panhwar. “Unlike other provinces, Sindh’s RTA secretaries don’t have magisterial powers to detain the driver and the vehicle [for up to 6 months]. But we can terminate their route permits and their registrations.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.
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