Tourists and residents in Galiyat region have accused transporters of overcharging commuters on the Abbottabad-Nathiagali route without inviting any attention from relevant authorities.
Tourists said over 150 high roofs and 23 vans are working the Abbottabad-Nathiagali route. They claimed the transporters have been charging Rs100 to 150 for a seat on the high roofs and Rs80 to 100 for one on the vans.
The tourists said they were visiting the picturesque valley to enjoy the pleasant weather in an otherwise scorching summer, but transporters were taking advantage of the influx of people and fleecing them. Complaining of inaction, they said several complaints had been lodged with the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) and the traffic police, but all in vain.
“They are hand-in-glove with authorities,” alleged Sardar Rashid, a resident of Mochi Darra in Nathiagali. He added most passenger vans operating between Abbottabad and Murree do not take passengers wanting to get off at Nathiagali, which leads to scuffles between transporters and commuters.
Rashid said that even if passengers going to Nathiagali are taken on board, they are made to sit on the vehicle’s steps or on the roof. He maintained the RTA has fixed the rate for a seat on a van en route from Abbottabad to Nathiagali at Rs48, but commuters are charged Rs80 to 100. During Eidul Fitr holidays, the fare went up to Rs100 to 120 per seat for the 34-kilometre distance, he added.
A resident of Bara Gali, Waleed Abbasi, said high roof owners have no permits and all 150 vehicles have private registration numbers. He added the vans are overcrowded as drivers take more passengers than capacity. He also accused transporters of bribing traffic police and RTA officials for running their tax-free businesses.
Though none of the RTA officials were available for comments, a traffic police officer requesting anonymity said most high roof and van owners were operating with political backing. The official, however, said traffic police personnel fine them when they are caught violating rules. He claimed passengers do not approach authorities with complaints, which is why transporters continue to violate rules and overcharge.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2014.
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