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‘Transport mafia’ rules twin cities 

02 Julie 2010 01:52:24

‘Transport mafia’ rules twin cities

Azhar Mehmood

ISLAMABAD, July 2, 2010: The transport system of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi is in the hands of a select few who have emerged in the form of a ‘formidable mafia’. As usual, this ‘mafia’ is backed by political clout and business tycoons.

Frequent increase in prices of petroleum products has added a new dimension to the inner workings of the ‘mafia’. Before and after the price hike of these products, the ‘transport mafia’ increases fares of local and long routes but they remain intact if the government decreases petrol and diesel prices.

More annoyingly, every now and then, transporters bring out a new fare list and start charging increased fares from commuters without approval of the concerned authorities -- challenging the writ of the government.

The commuters are suffering a lot these days as the majority of van drivers of Routes 1 and 3 have made it their privilege to park vehicles at Faizabad and forcefully disembark passengers who want to travel longer distances.

“Public transporters pick passengers from Islamabad and ask them to disembark the wagon at Faizabad in order to earn more profit on the route. They pick other passengers from there to charge fare from them once more,” a government employee, Farooq Qureshi, complained.

“The wagon and mini-bus drivers do not complete their routes, in clear violation of traffic rules and their agreement with the regional transport authority,” another commuter, Imran Khan, said.

“The vans overstay at various stops and on being asked drivers resort to using abusive language and even scuffle, at times,” he added.

Muhammad Abid, a senior teacher, and Raja Zahoor Ahmed, an employee in the private sector, argued that public transporters plying on these routes take their vehicles off the road soon after sunset. Only a few vehicles are seen plying on these routes and commuters face difficulties in reaching their destinations.

The female commuters are the worst affected. Farah Yaseen, a student, said: “Girls have to wait for hours to find seats in public transport due to which they often get late from schools and colleges.” She demanded of the college authorities to provide more buses for female students so that they do not have to use public transport.

“Due to the shortage of vans and buses, most women get late from their offices,” another female passenger, Amna Bibi, said. “Transporters only prefer to pick those who travel short distances and avoid allowing long-distance passengers,” she added.

She urged the concerned authorities to take immediate action on the violation of traffic rules, and called for launching government transport to overcome the problem. “Although the front seat in vans is reserved for women, the drivers allow men to take those seats due to which we have to hire taxis, which are costly for us,” she ended up.

Commuters of the twin cities have appealed to the concerned authorities to direct public transporters to improve their service besides encouraging more private companies to enter public transport arena by issuing them licenses.