LAHORE - As the holy month of blessings draws to a close, hundreds of thousands of people are leaving big cities for their hometowns to celebrate Eidul Fitr with their families.

Bus stands and railway stations were seen packed with passengers on Sunday as people rushed to get tickets. Transporters are expecting huge rush of passengers in the days ahead since the federal government has announced four holidays for the festival.

Passengers complained that bus owners were robbing them in the name of fuel price hike, announced by the government last week. Complaints of overcharging are multiplying despite crackdown by the police and the city administration on those involved in overcharging.

Also, there was a huge rush of passengers at the railway stations in the city where people staged protest demonstration against the hours-long delay in departure and arrival of trains.

Trains coming from Karachi and Quetta were delayed on Sunday due to which passengers faced problems. At least 20 flights were cancelled and five were rescheduled at Allama Iqbal International Airport.

A densely populated metropolis always gives a deserted look on both Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha as people go back to their native towns to celebrate the festivals with their loved ones.

The exodus will intensify on Monday (today) as June 3 is the last working day. The government has announced four holidays for Eidul Fitr – from June 4 to June 7 (Tuesday to Friday).

A large number of people prefer early departure to their hometowns to avoid rush and overcharging. City’s bus terminals at Yateem Khana, Babu Sabu, Thokar Niaz Beg and Badami Bagh and railways stations were seen packed with people on Sunday. Transporters have increased fare for Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkur, Larkana and Karachi by Rs200 to Rs250.

The district administration has circulated a WhatsApp number to lodge complaints about overcharging. The deputy commissioner of Lahore said that a toll free number 0800-00-2345 and Whatsapp number 0307-0002345 are available to help people and address their grievances about overcharging. She said the district administration imposed Rs0.2 million fine on transporters and gave back overcharged fare to 400 passengers. She said that operation of 20 buses had been suspended due to complaints.

Commissioner of Lahore Division and Administrator of Metropolitan Corporation of Lahore Dr Mujtiba Piracha visited Lorry Adda to review the arrangements made to control overcharging at all bus terminals of the city.

Ali Express was fined Rs10,000 by the commissioner at Lorry Adda for overcharging. Faisal Movers was also overcharging Rs200 per passenger.

The commissioner said: “We have set up four complaint camps at all city terminals where Regional Transport Authority, Lahore Waste Management Company and police special squad are deployed to respond to people’s complaints.”

The city administrator has directed the officials to check the ticket prices at terminals and ensure that transporters do not charge the passengers.

Due to the security reasons, the commissioner has directed the police to make security arrangements at entrances and exit points of bus terminals. Moreover, transporters will be responsible for checking passengers with metal detectors before entering the buses. He warned transporters of consequences if they are found involved in overcharging. Transporters say they increased the fare due to slim profit margin and one-sided rush of passengers.

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has already announced 50 percent discount on all trains on Eid days for passengers across the country.

Pakistan Railways is running five special trains on Eidul Fitr and according to schedule, Eid special trains would run from June 8 from Lahore Railway Station for Karachi Cantonment at 6pm. The online booking facility is available for Eid special trains from May 29 already.

Passengers also lodged a complaint about overcharging on water bottles and juices at Tuck Shop of Daewoo Terminal at Thokar Niaz Beg. The city admintration took action and imposed Rs50,000 fine on the tuck shop and arrested the shop manager.