LAHORE - Sohail was travelling on Sunday night from Lahore to his village near Mian Channu to spend Eid holidays with his family. Due to heavy rush, transporters were charging high from the home-goers so he was charged Rs600 by a minivan against the routine fare of Rs400 between the two destinations.

He is a labourer and works at a steel shop in Johar Town area of Lahore. Paying Rs200 extra to transporter made him disturbed during the whole journey and he shared his story with his fellow passenger who was an educated person. His kind fellow was travelling till Checha Watni, a destination 35 kilometre prior to Mianchannu.

“I only know he made a quick call to Motorways Police before leaving van at Chechawatni. The Motorways Police stopped the bus when we just left the city. It was around 3am. An officer entered into the van and asked for me with my name. First I felt fear, but then introduced myself.

“I told him (the officer) that I was charged an extra Rs200 by the transporter. Then the police officers asked every passenger and, believe me, everyone was charged almost Rs200 to Rs300 extra. In quick action, the officer directed the conductor to return the extra fare to every passenger and he also fined Rs2,000 to van owners for overcharging,” Sohail shared his all story with Told The Nation at Jinnah Bus Terminal at Thoker Bypass.

He had arrived back to work from his village on Friday.

A survey of two city bus terminals shows that complaints of overcharging by travellers were less this year. Some of them appreciated the action of National Highways and Motorways Police against the overcharging. But still the complaints were there, with a demand of more action and vigilance required by the transport authorities to stop overcharging.

On two Eid occasions, millions travel from Lahore to their hometowns to share the celebrations with their families and friends. Except from few known companies, every bus and van owner charged extra from the commuters on Eid, taking benefit of the rush.

Transporters say they charge extra fare because they have to come back to Lahore almost with empty vehicles. But they use the same tactics when the people come back to Lahore from their hometowns and villages.

“There is need for creating awareness among the commuters. Don’t argue with the staff on taking bus but just make a call to Motorways Police number if you are being charged extra fare,” Safeer Hussain suggested to many passengers standing at Jinnah Terminal.

“Yes, it suffers a lot. We travel on both Eids to our home and are overcharged. It must be stopped,” said Muhammad Ali, a resident of Multan.

Another passenger said the district administrations usually do not pay heed to the problem rather it remained absent from the bus terminals during the Eid exodus. The problem could be resolved if the district authority remained active at bus terminals like the Motorways Police at roads, he added.

On the other side, a statement issued by the NH&MP said the upon the directions of IG Shaukat Hayat, officers of NH&MP took stern action against the complaints of overcharging by the transporters during Eid-ul-Azha and returned Rs6 million to passengers in total.

As per details, the NH&MP officers took prompt action in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Attock, Jehulm, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Lahore, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Chakwal, Multan, Okara, Khanewal, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkur, Moro, Hyderabad, Karachi and many other districts against the complaints of overcharging by the transporters and retrieved thousands of rupees and returned to the passengers. Until now the total amount returned to the passengers on motorways and highways was Rs19,885,950, the statement added.