People in Swat have complained that transporters are charging them double the fares set by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA).
Talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday, locals said that although RTA revised the fare list after price of compressed natural gas (CNG) was reduced by around Rs30 per kg on orders of the Supreme Court, but transporters continue to charge rates they deem fit.
Moreover, they complained that the RTA has not displayed the revised fare list at bus stops, which is a major reason why transporters continue to overcharge.
A survey conducted by this scribe revealed that transporters charge Rs45 from passengers travelling from Mingora to Matta, for which the fare set by the RTA is Rs23; Rs20 from Mingora to Kanju, for which the listed rate is Rs12; Rs25 from Mingora to Dherai, for which the listed rate is Rs12; Rs 30 from Mingora to Bara Bandai, for which the listed fare is Rs15; and Rs35 from Mingora to Ningolai, for which the listed fare is Rs17. Similar fares were charged in other parts of the valley.
“They transporters are ready to increase fares when price of CNG goes up, but refuse to reduce them when the price goes down,” said Zahoor Islam, a resident of Matta. “But what’s more bothersome is that the government or the police are not ready to take action against the violators,” he added.
Transporters on the other hand have their own reasons to keep fares high. “Roads in Swat are terrible and because of that we have to spend large amounts on the repair of our vehicles. If we start charging fares set by the RTA we will not be able to even meet our expenses,” said one transporter, requesting not to be named.
Mohammad Fayaz, a resident of Ningolai said the RTA has not displayed the revised fare list at bus stops, which is why transporters continue to overcharge. “If the fare list is not displayed, how will the commuters know that they are being overcharged?” he questioned. He said it is the responsibility of the RTA to ensure that the fare list is displayed at all public transport areas to ensure compliance.
When the RTA’s district department was contacted, officials said that though the authority is responsible for fixing fares and publishing lists, ensuring implementation is the duty of the district coordination officer (DCO).
When contacted, DCO Kamran Rehman said that efforts are underway to ensure that transporters do not overcharge, adding that the traffic magistrate has been directed to take action against violators. He urged the people to lodge complaints at his office so that all their grievances can be addressed properly.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.
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