Islamabad - As the celebrations of Eid-ul-Azha festival approach near, non-availability of travelling tickets, overcharging and over crowdedness on the vehicles have elevated the miseries of the people commuting towards their hometowns from the federal capital.

Three major bus stands of twin cities including Faizabad, Pirwadhai and Karachi Company were thronged with the outsiders who started leaving the city to celebrate the festivity of Eid at their homes. But, their eagerness to reach home started suffering in the hands of the transporters when they faced the situation of unavailability of vehicles and waited for hours to board, on the basis of ‘first come first go’ condition. 

The people from all across the country and different parts of life reside in the federal capital for the purpose of work and business. Most of them travel to their hometowns to celebrate Eid with their loved ones.

Thousands of people enjoying the facility of their own transport manage easily to move from the city. But, majority of people from working class, labourers and students have to depend on the public transport, and every time they have to suffer from the same problems.

Meanwhile, outnumbered vehicles daily leave the city taking passengers to their destinations; however, on every Eid they fail in facilitating them. Rush is not only observed on the major bus stands but groups of people standing beside the Kashmir Highway and GT Road waiting for transport raise questions on the transportation system.

Israr Ali, a transport manger at Pir Wadhai bus stand talking to The Nation said the administration here has put every bus on road because of the rush but it is not possible to take everyone. “People should leave early on Eid days to avoid ticketing problem,” he said.

Purchasing ticket before Eid has also become a frustrating task for people as mostly seats are found booked almost a week before the Eid in the buses of companies providing better travelling services to the commuters. The term ‘seat on chance’ becomes most repeated sentence if the counter is reached for ticket without advance booking.

According to Israr Ali, those who get seat on chance are the lucky people in these days. But every commuter cannot afford the luxuries of bus services being operated by the big companies and they have to rely on average and below average transport to save money.

Ashfaq Khan is a daily-wage labourer in Islamabad. He didn’t celebrate last Eid with his family in Mardan because his financial position didn’t allow him to go to his hometown. Although he cannot afford to purchase sacrificial animal, yet he is going to his village to meet his family. He is waiting for getting entry into a local van, which will take him to Mardan but after stopping at dozens of bus stops to earn extra profit.

“Travelling on these vans is the worst experience but I have no other option and have to reach home also, as I want to celebrate this Eid with my family,” said Ashfaq.  Meanwhile, Kamal Ahmed, a driver of the local van said that they are not earning extra-profit and exploiting commuters on the occasion of the Eid. “Eid doesn’t come for commuters only, we also have to celebrate it by feeding our families and sometimes traffic officials also because they demand ‘Eidi’ from drivers in these days,” he said.

Some commuters also complained that the vehicle owners are not only extra charging in the fare but they are also taking hundreds of rupees for the luggage. Mohsin Syed, a student who was going to Lahore on Eid, told The Nation that he purchased the ticket by paying Rs 100 extra to the helper of the bus, and he also took Rs 200 more for placing his luggage in the trunk.  “There is no specific rate here. Every customer is being charged extra, the one who agrees on their terms gets seat; otherwise one have to stand and wait for hours here,” he said.

But, the driver Mohammad Azam is not ready to accept the over-charged amount as extra profit. In his view, they are commuting people day and night for their facilitation and to take them on their destination.  “If anyone demands a few rupees extra against taking people to their home on Eid occasion, they should not mind it very much because suffering on the bus stand is much bigger price than they pay to transporters,” he said.

Mohsin Syed said the government should establish special counters at bus stands to keep a check on extra profiteers during these days.  Another commuter, Haider Khan who was standing at Karachi Company bus stand along with his family missed the coach for Peshawar and was waiting to get chance in another one. “There is little chance that any coach to Peshawar will come; otherwise, I will have to revise my decision of going to my hometown. Happy Eid Mubarak to transporters and the government,” he said sarcastically.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.