Following the recent increase in petroleum products’ prices, public transporters have jacked up the fares for all intercity routes, The Express Tribune learnt on Monday.
All transport operators have increased their fares for various cities from Lahore by Rs100 to Rs300.
A passenger ticket for air-conditioned bus service for the Lahore-Islamabad route was sold for Rs1,050 to Rs1,100. The fare between the provincial capital and Faisalabad was increased to between Rs550 and Rs650 by the operators. The new fare for Bahawalpur was Rs1,000 to Rs1,050, Multan Rs900 to Rs950 and Peshawar Rs1,050 to Rs1,150. The fare for other intercity routes was also increased.
The manager of an intercity bus terminal, Muhammad Hussain, said the government had increased petroleum products’ prices by almost 30%, after which it had become impossible for public transporters to keep their tariffs low. In recent months when the government slashed petroleum products’ prices it had cut intercity public transport fares by 20%. “Since petroleum prices have been increase, we have reversed this reduction,” he added.
Similarly, goods transporters also increased their charges on the pretext of the hike in fuel prices. A representative of a local trucking company, Shahbaz, said that owing to the change in petroleum products’ prices and the exchange rate of dollar, the cost of diesel, lubricants and tyres used by the sector had increased, compelling the goods transporters to revise their fares.
On average, the goods transport fares have been increase by 10-15% to manage the increased cost, he maintained.
Passengers, on the other hand, criticised the increase in fuel prices. A citizen, Ashfaq Ahmad, said the prices of crude oil had not returned to their previous level but the government had increased fuel prices substantially. “It appears that the government is trying to make money by increasing the petroleum prices,” he said.
A passenger, Faizan Ali, the government had jacked up the prices of petroleum products in an unprecedented manner. “Earlier, we heard that the governments increased prices by Rs2-3 per litre but now it has increase fuel rates by almost Rs25, which cannot be accepted,” he said.
He alleged that the government and oil companies had teamed up to fleece the people. Fuel was hardly available at petrol pumps in the city before the government announced the increase in prices. All of a sudden, petrol stations had opened and started selling the fuel.
“One should ask the government and regulator to tell the nation why citizens had to suffer shortage of fuel during recent weeks,” he added.
Another citizen, Innayat Ali, said that on one hand people were facing hardships owing to the coronavirus lockdown, while on the other hand the government had failed to rein in prices of almost all essential commodities. Earlier, citizens had to face shortage of sugar, wheat flour and petroleum products and now the government had increased fuel prices to fill its kitty. He demanded the government give respite to the people by lowering fuel prices and reining in inflation because were already suffering because of the lockdown.
“Thousands of peoples have already lost their jobs owing to the economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A large number of employees have been put on lists for the next downsizing, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2020.
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