KARACHI: Despite major reduction in oil prices, the transporters have refused to cut bus fares by 12 percent as expected on the plea that their vehicles ran on CNG.
Karachi Transport Ittehad president Irshad Bukhari argued that since Karachi public transporters had already converted their minibuses and coaches from diesel to CNG, the cut in oil prices was meaningless to them and they would therefore not reduce their fares. On the other hand, Karachi Transport Action Committee president Ashraf Banglori said that they were ready to accept any decision made by the Sindh government about cutting public transport fares in the metropolis. Millions of commuters have been facing exploitation at the hands of what they often refer to as the ‘transport mafia’.
These transporters charge bus fares on the basis of diesel use but actually consume cheap CNG instead, thus making a windfall at the expense of the city’s residents while also lining the pockets of corrupt transport department officials on the side in order to keep the racket going. Haleem Adil Sheikh, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, said that the government has failed to safeguard the rights of Karachi’s residents. “Despite being a strong consumer group, the city’s commuters have been orphaned due to the lack of political patronage,” he alleged. “Karachi’s public transport sector is the goose that lays the golden egg for the corrupt bureaucracy but the ultimate sufferers are the public.”
Sheikh demanded that the diesel-based fares be replaced by a new bus fare formula taking into account the consumption of CNG, with a provision for days when CNG is unavailable. He also asked for the modernisation of the city’s public transport, banning old and smoke-emitting vehicles, as well as the removal of roof-racks from all minibuses and coaches. “There should be a single slab of fare for both minibuses and coaches because there is no difference between them,” he added. “The official colour code of public transport vehicles should also be strictly implemented, improving the aesthetics of the city roads.”