BAHAWALNAGAR-Mighty and fearless transporters continue to exploit the commuters through overloading and overcharging besides other malpractices ‘apparently’ allegedly under the blessings of the Regional Transport Authority which is otherwise supposed to check such grave violation. The persistent overcharging despite reduction in fuel rates has become a permanent feature. It has been witnessed that 20 to 25 passengers are bundled into a van, having an approved capacity for only 15 passengers on various routes inter and intra-district routes.

In a Hiace van, three passengers are forced to sit along with driver that is otherwise approved for two passengers only. Similarly, a wooden board is installed on the backside of the front seat in these vans to fill in another four to five passengers.  In larger vehicles, more passengers are dumped like cattle by placing extra stools and makeshift seats, causing huge problems to commuters, especially the women.

Local vans that ply on rural routes between villages and towns also transport luggage and even cattle along with passengers. Sometimes, several bags of fertilizers, sugar or grains are loaded onto a petty vehicle that can result in serious incidents.

On the other hand, the influential transporters brought back the bus stands which were shifted from Bahawli Chowk. It has been learnt that the transporters got the administration pressurised on the pretext of court orders to bring back the bus stands to the city. Now there remain ‘traffic nuisance’ for the whole day. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from frequent accidents occurred at Bahawli Chowk after the re-shifting of bus stands. While traffic remains out of gear for hours, causing severe problems to commuters and motorists alike.

It seems that instead of getting the situation remedied, Regional Transport Authority Secretary Abdul Fatah Haleo has given a free hand to the transporters to run their affairs at their own will.

Locals alleged that vehicle stand owners enjoyed the blessings of the district administration as the transport secretary had turned blind eye to illegal van bus stands.

The commuters have demanded the district government to provide comfortable and economical travelling facility to them instead of supporting the transporters who always exploit the masses either through fares hike or by overloading.

They also demanded Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to launch government own public transport system to end monopoly of private van stand owners who have made their lives miserable.