Islamabad-Transporters have been taking full advantage of the situation by charging extra fares as a large number of people residing in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have started leaving for their native towns to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with their loved ones.

The bus and wagon terminals can be seen jam-packed with passengers and the passengers were seen wandering from terminal to terminal to find seats in the buses and wagons. The passengers at bus stands of Pirwadhai, Mandi Morr, Faizabad and Chungi No.26, just at the mouth of the Motorway, were seen panic to get a seat in the inter-city buses. Taking advantage of the situation, the transporters have increased fares and the authorities concerned are not in the picture.

A survey conducted by The Nation revealed that the transporters first create an artificial rush by bringing lesser buses on roads so that the passengers get panic. Then it becomes easy to convince the panicked passengers for higher fares and to sit on the roof of buses. To avoid legal action by the regional transport authorities, traffic police and motorway police, majority of the transporters would not issue tickets to the passengers in advance as in that case, they will have to bring the fare on record. They would rather stop advance booking and ask the passengers to take seats inside and on the roof as the buses are available. They will not tell the passengers calling on phone about the fare and even ask them to reach the terminal with an assurance that they will get seats. The transporters will ask the passengers to occupy seats inside and on top of the roof and then they will start collecting fare without issuing them tickets so that the latter has no proof of overcharging.

The buses with passengers occupying the roof would opt for the roads other than motorway to avoid legal action for overloading by the motorway police. The officials at highways would look the other way, the transporters believe.  

The ITP and motorway police every year announce to constitute special teams for checking fare violations but exploitation of the passengers continues. In the wake of not encouraging response by the authorities on the complaints of extra fares, the passengers will also prefer to reach their destinations without availing the complaint opportunity. Resultantly, the transporters continue fleecing the passengers on such occasions.

Thousands thronged the twin cities’ bus stands for an early departure to their respective destinations and celebrate the festival with their relatives. The Karachi Company bus terminal in Islamabad, however, offers the facility of advance booking on such occasions with hardly any complaint of overcharging but getting a seat reserved there is an uphill task. Long queues of people in the holy month of Ramazan were seen at the terminal for booking of seats ahead of Eid.

There are other problems also being faced by the passengers particularly on such occasion when there is a great rush at the terminals. The terminals are without proper ventilated waiting rooms and clean washrooms and the passengers with families have to face the most. However, these people leave for their hometowns with happy faces to celebrate Eid with their loved ones. Thursday will be the last working day before the long weekend starts. Thousands of people from the twin cities leave the cities on such occasion and one can hardly see an official from the Islamabad Traffic Police, the Rawalpindi Regional Transport Authority or the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration to entertain public complaints about overcharging and mitigate their sufferings.

Meanwhile, Islamabad Traffic Police said that they have started taking action against the transporters overcharging passengers. In a statement issued here Tuesday, they said that special squads have been constituted to check overcharging and overloading by the transporters ahead of Eid.