Rawalpindi - Rawalpindi Transport Authority (RTA) has allegedly given a freehand to transport mafia to fleece the passengers across the district, as the transporters are charging old fares despite slash in petroleum prices.

Similarly, the cabs and rickshaw owners are following the footprints of other transporters by charging high fares from passengers in the district. No action has been taken against the defiant transporters by secretary RTA even the passengers have submitted written complaints.

The passengers lashed out at RTA high-ups and demanded of Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Secretary Transport Shaukat Khan to take strict action against them and the transporters who have been looting them (the passengers) with both hands by charging old fares.

The government had issued revised fare lists for all the routes in the city; however, the RTA has badly failed in implementing the new fare lists, they said.

Talking to The Nation on Thursday, a large number of passengers complained that the secretary RTA had failed in implementing the new fare lists issued by the government. They said that the Suzuki van owners plying on various routes including 22 Number to Dhamial, Hayyal, Chakri Road, Saddar to Tench Bhatta, Peoples Colony, Bakra Mandi, Iqbal Colony, Dhoke Syedan, Baraf Khana Chowk and Girja, and Toyota Hiace owners moving on routes numbers 1, 1C, 7, 21 and 24 had refused to accept new fare lists and were charging old fares forcefully.

Ismail Khan, an employee in 502 Workshop, told this scribe that he daily travelled between Dhamial to Chungi Number 22 on Suzuki van. The fare has been fixed at Rs 16 by the government, while the conductors have been charging Rs 20, which is sheer violation of the government’s orders, he added. He said that the drivers and conductors misbehaved with those passengers who did not pay them the old fare.

“I pay Rs 35 to the conductor of Toyota Hiace of route number 7 from Saddar to Rawat,” Rizwan, a security guard, said while informing that the revised fare was Rs 27. He added that he lodged several complaints with Secretary RTA Office, besides providing registration numbers of vehicles but all in vain.

He said that the inspectors of RTA were reluctant to touch the owners of vehicles of route 7 who were busy looting passengers.

Aisha Batool, a university student, was of view that the drivers and conductors of vehicles plying on route number 1 were also violating the new fare lists by charging old fares. The government reduced stop to stop fare by 7 percent but no transporter was following the orders, she said demanding of CM Mian Shahbaz Sarif to take notice of the looting spree of transporters.

“I hired a cab from Katcheri to Saddar against Rs 150. The driver started quarrelling with me when I tried to convince him to decrease the fare as per new petroleum prices,” said Rana Jabbar, a lawyer. He said that the cab owners were also charging old fares and no legal authority was taking action against them.  

Talking to The Nation, Secretary RTA Awais Manzoor Tarar came up with lame excuses and claims and seemed to be putting his weight behind the transport mafia. He, while expressing his helplessness, said that the transporters in meetings with him claimed that the government did not reduce the fares in accordance with the petrol prices which was not acceptable to them.

He, however, claimed that his teams were checking 4 to 6 routes on daily basis and impounding vehicles involved in violation of fare lists. “The RTA in the last two months issued fine tickers to some 1,300 vehicles and impounded a total of 560 vehicles, besides collecting Rs 934,000 as fine,” he said.