LAHORE - Thousands of people left the city Sunday to celebrate the Eidul Fitr with families and friends in their home towns and villages. Travelling by Eid holidaymakers from provincial capital to other parts of the country touched its peak on Friday and Saturday and it completed on Sunday night. The exodus which occurs twice a year on the occasions of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha, starts around a week before the mega religious events.

Over five to six million people leave Lahore, the city of more than 10 million inhabitants, on both Eids to celebrate the events with their families and friends at hometowns and villages. The city will present almost deserted look on both the occasions.

As rush becomes extraordinary at city bus terminals, the transport mafia start overcharging. The transport authorities either remain silent or they take least measures to stop the illegal acts.

The overcharging on this Eid like every year was massive. The helpless passengers were left with no option but to pay extra fare to reach at their destinations. There were complaints that tickets were sold even at double and triple price especially on Friday and Saturday when exodus was at peak. However, normalcy returned on Sunday.

Transport operators make typical excuse of overcharging and say they return Lahore with empty buses so they have to charge some extra fare from passengers to meet expenditure. “We come back empty from Multan. It happens only on Eid day. We are left with no option but to get some extra fare from passengers to create balance expenditure and earning,” said a van owner who operates his vehicle between two destinations. The massive rush of passengers and vehicles caused a traffic jam city exit and entry points. There were reports of long queues vehicles at Sheikhupura Road and Multan Road. Traffic remained stuck for hours at both highways for hours on Sunday night.

Pakistan Railways, like every year, had operated special trains to facilitate the passengers on Eid but it did not help to reduce rush at bus points. The Railways this time operated six special trains from different cities including two from Lahore to other cities.

The transport authorities although make claims every year that overcharging will not be allowed, the complaints are still there.

Some passengers, talking to The Nation, complained that they had paid Rs800 to go to Mian Channu from Khanewal. The usual fare between the two destinations is Rs500.

Shafqat Ali, a passenger, said that he paid Rs900 to go to Jhang against the common day fare of Rs500.

Transport officials say that standard transport companies do not overcharge rather it is done in some case by individual operator. They claim that there is no complaint of charging extra fare from Daewoo, Faisal Movers, Belal Express, Rajput Travel, Niazi Bus Service, Skyways and other standard transport companies. Interestingly, tickets of the companies were hardly available and sold almost week ago.

“We take swift action against any complaint. But it depends on passenger’s complaint. We cannot check every bus and wagon and ask from every passenger about overcharging,” said an official of Punjab Transport Authority, requesting anonymity.

Pakistan Motorways and Highways Police have taken the task from last three years to check the overcharging and it fined hundreds of transporters besides returning the extra fare charged from passengers. But also it depends on complaints. A motorways police officer appealed to the passengers to lodge complaint at given number in case of overcharging.

Majority of passengers who left the city on Sunday included people of nearer cities like Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Okara, Sialkot, as those who lived in central and south Punjab went homes on Friday and Saturday.