PESHAWAR: The scuffles among passengers and drivers of coaches are a business as usual at the Haji Camp Adda nowadays as the drivers have increased fare on the Peshawar-Mardan motorway route.
The coaches used to charge Rs90 per passenger for travel from Peshawar to Mardan via the Motorway a few months ago. However, the drivers raised the fare by 10 rupees and started charging Rs100 per person later on. To add insult to injury, the drivers now charge Rs150 to Rs200 for the front seat in the coach and Rs100 for the other seats.
A driver said the Motorway Police recently asked the drivers to take one passenger in the front seat. However, the drivers managed to adjust the second passenger (of the front seat) in the back seats of coaches. At the same time, they raised the front seat fare to Rs150, and sometimes they charge Rs200 illegally if the passenger does not argue on it.
A passenger, Imran, told this scribe that the authorities had turned a blind eye to the overcharging by drivers.
“Neither the Traffic Police cops monitor the route fares nor is there any other authority,” he said. He recalled that he had to scuffle with a driver in Mardan while disembarking the coach because the driver was demanding Rs150 for the front seat. “I told him that I had been giving Rs100 so far as I frequently visit Mardan,” he added.
Ahmad Khan, another young man who visits Mardan frequently, complained that the drivers do not mend their ways and always exploit the passengers. He said that when the prices of fuel rise, they increase fares but they do not lower the fare even if the fuel price goes down.
The drivers present different pretexts to justify the exploitation of passengers. This scribe once boarded a coach (No: NWFP E 2975) at Haji Camp Adda and when it reached Mardan, the driver charged Rs150 instead of the normal Rs100 fare.
The driver said that because the Motorway Police had asked them to take only one passenger in the front seat, they had raised the fare for that. However, when asked that they have already accommodated one extra passenger in the back seats of the coach, the driver had no answer.
Adnan, a passenger travelling in a Mardan-bound coach, said that once he was charged Rs150 and when he asked the driver why he overcharged him, he (driver) replied: “I did not ask you to sit in the front seat, but it was the Adda boy (who usually calls passengers to sit in the Mardan coaches); you should ask him this.”
Attempts were made to seek comments from the district nazim Peshawar and a Traffic Police official about the issue, but they didn’t respond to the phone calls.