Despite the special squads constituted by the Traffic and Motorway police to keep a check on transporters overcharging and overloading commuters during the Eid holidays exodus, several citizens have complained that these measures are not enough.
National Highway and Motorway Police IG Muhammed Saleem Bhatti presided over a meeting on Tuesday where he directed senior NH&MP officers to form a policy for dealing with transporters who overcharge travellers ahead of Eid.
Bhatti said no transporter would be allowed to overcharge passengers and anyone found levying undue high fares from passengers will be fined and their vehicles will be seized by the NH&MP. He also directed officers to display posters and pamphlets carrying the warning against overcharging at bus stands in all districts and other public places. Commuters have been asked to contact the 130 Helpline to report violations if any. He also directed the officers to set up posts at various interchanges in the province where officials would ask passengers travelling in buses if they had been overcharged.
He said the NH&MP would ensure that the excess fare is returned to the passengers. Bhatti also directed officers to keep an eye out for criminal activity so that people could travel safely during Eid.
The city traffic police, too, have a strategy to cope with transporters overcharging commuters. Two wardens and a senior traffic official have been deployed at each bus station to ensure that transporters charge no more than the fares mentioned on rate lists.
And yet, several citizens traveling to their native towns and cities from Lahore on the eve of Eid have complained that they had been overcharged and stuffed in overcrowded buses.
Mohsin Tanveer, who works at a textile factory in Faisalabad, arrived in Lahore on Thursday to spend Eid holidays with his extended family. “The Motorway police are no better than district police. The vehicle I travelled in was overloaded but no one on the Motorway cared to question the driver.”
Motorway rules state that a Hiace van cannot carry more than 14 passengers, but transporters sometimes box up to 18 passengers in the van. “It’s Eid…we have the right to make some extra money to spend it on our families,” Yasir, the conductor of one such van, said.
Then there are transporters who have been overcharging passengers travelling from Lahore to other cities. “The listed fare for Rawalpindi is Rs800 but I was charged Rs1,000 due to the Eid rush,” Massom Ali, a college student, said. The City Traffic Police squad, charged with the responsibility of keeping a check on overcharging/overloading transporters have managed to nab only four people in three days, officials said.
PRO to NH&MP IG Imran Shah said they hadn’t fined anyone, but had returned excess fare to hundreds of passengers.
Leaves of the Punjab Police officials have been cancelled owing to terror threats on Eidul Fitr.
Heavy contingents of policemen have been deployed at sensitive locations, mosques, mausoleums and shrines in Lahore. The Home Department has issued a notification in this regard.
Security at the city’s entrances and exits has also been enhanced. Policemen on leave have been called back to perform their duties on Eid.
More than 10,000 police officials will guard the city’s 230 Eidgahs, 3,623 mosques and 348 imambargahs on the eve of Eidul Fitr and the last Friday of Ramazan, the CCPO’s office said. They added that round-the-clock patrolling by police units will be ensured during Eid holidays.
The City Traffic police have also finalised a traffic plan for the three Eid holidays. Under the plan, three SPs, 13 DSPs, 109 inspectors, 270 patrolling officers and 2,535 wardens will perform duties in two shifts to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the city.
Chief Traffic Officer Tayyab Hafeez Cheema said citizens will not be fined for petty offences on roads during Eid days. He said traffic wardens will remain deployed on roads till 1am on Chand Raat at markets, amusement parks and shopping malls. Lifters have been deployed to ensure that cars parked at wrong places and those hindering traffic flow would be picked up.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2015.