Intercity bus owners cash on Eid by doubling fares in Karachi

Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui issues directives to not increase the fares

With an increase of passengers travelling between cities, bus owners are raising fares to increase their profit. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: On special occasions, people want to spend more time with their families. This is exactly what the intercity bus owners are cashing on.

Almost a week ago, the intercity public transporters had responded positively to the call of commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui to not increase fares during Eid. Siddiqui had promised to set up a complaint centre at Sohrab Goth, comprising staff from the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) and the traffic police. "Apart from the complaint centre, citizens will also be able to register their complaints at Karachi commissioner's complaint room," he had assured. However, no complaint centre was established at the main bus terminal of alAsif Square at Sohrab Goth and the transport fares reached an all-time high.

Read: Cost of travel: As people return home for Eid, bus fares skyrocket

The passengers

Mushtaq Ahmed Khan wanted to reach home in Jangpura as soon as possible to spend the last few days of Ramazan and celebrate Eid with his family. For this purpose, he was ready to pay any price.

"I couldn't get the train on time," he said. "The only option I was left with was this Neo Pakistan Coach, which charged Rs2,000." He normally pays Rs900 in bus fare when he travels to his hometown. "But it's Eid time. Everyone wants to earn as much as they can."

Another passenger, Irfan Haider, who goes to his hometown in Muzaffargarh every year to celebrate Eid, told The Express Tribune that this was the time when the intercity transporters earned the most.

Read: Convenience of conveyance: Transport fares to not increase during Eid in Karachi

"Every year I pay double the actual rates," he claimed, adding that this time he paid Rs1,300 to travel on the rooftop of Adil Shah Coach. "The fare of travelling inside the bus is Rs2,000 and I cannot afford that."

No cut

Meanwhile, the ticket seller of Shaadi Khel Coach, Basit, said that there will be no decrease in their ticket prices. "No matter what the government says and does, our fares are legal and we will not reduce them," he claimed. The Sindh Bus Owner Association president Meer Afzal Khan said that no bus company was charging 'extra money'. "Whatever is being charged is our legal money," he claimed. "After all, it's Eid time."

Curbing overcharging

RTA secretary Manshad Ali clarified that their camp was set up at Toll Plaza and they were constantly penalising bus owners charging higher rates. "Only yesterday, we fined around 7,000 buses with fines costing a total Rs89,000," he claimed, adding that around Rs0.1 million was refunded to the passengers being charged with extra fare.

Read: Reason To Celebrate: Commuters to pay 10% less fares

"When this coach passes through Toll Plaza, we stop them and check the tickets of the passengers," he explained. "If they are found being overcharged, we immediately take action."

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.


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