ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Following the strike of CNG, transporters have started fleecing the commuters by charging additional fares without getting approval from the transport authorities. Large numbers of commuters were seen waiting for transport at various bus stops due to the CNG strike on Saturday. Students, government employees and women were among the worst sufferers.
Meanwhile, the transporters who are plying their vehicles in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been increasing the fares every day during the ongoing gas strike on the pretext that they are using petrol. "We are forced to pay double fare, particularly on the days when CNG supply has been suspended," said a group of commuters.
The commuters and other citizens have demanded that the authorities concerned take a strict notice of the situation and impose fine on the drivers who are charging double fares.
Meanwhile, after almost five decades of its development, the federal capital has not started its own public transport system, creating immense problems for the commuters. There seems to be no immediate end in sight to their miseries. The city managers had on certain occasions announced to start the city’s own public transport system, but all those announcements could not be materialised for one reason or the other.
Former CDA chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi had announced to start CNG bus rapid system but after several years these pledges have not been fulfilled and masses are facing difficulties. Thousands of people travel between the twin cities and face immense problems to reach their destinations. Like other segments of society, large numbers of students also face difficulties in reaching their institutes besides maltreatment by the drivers and conductors.
After the three-day weekly CNG load shedding, the need for a proper public system has increased as less number of vehicles ply on roads during these days. Private transporters keep their vehicles off the road in the façade of unavailability of CNG while cab drivers take extra charges. In this situation women commuting by public transport continue to face a tough time as the public transport is a nightmare for them.
"I work at a call centre in Islamabad and every day, I have to change two vans in order to reach my office. Mostly, I have to wait for a long time to get a seat in the van," said Huma Shahid, a resident of the Raja Bazaar. She said that buses were more suitable for female commuters but currently, no bus was plying between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, adding that it was a need of the hour to launch a proper transport facility for the public in general and female commuters in particular, so that they may travel with dignity.
A large number of private employees also use public transport to reach their offices. However, all employees are confronted by the same problems of inadequate transport facility. "The CDA should now focus on introducing proper transport system in the city instead of just focusing on facilitating the elite class," said Hasnain Ali, an employee of a courier company.