There has been a mass demand for engagement of mobile courts in places to check profiteering by bus operators who are reportedly overcharging passengers for their Eid journey.
Racketeers have taken Tk 100 to Tk 300 higher than usual fares, taking an undue advantage of a mad rush for tickets and lack of adequate bus service, home-goers alleged.
“Owners didn’t revise inter-district bus fares even after a fall in diesel price. They’re taking higher fares during Eid journey,” said Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury.
“Usually, transport owners don’t follow the fare chart and charge higher fare than the BRTA-fixed fares,” he exclaimed angrily.
“I usually travel from Dhaka to Kushtia at Tk 450, but now the same bus operator, SB Paribahan, has charged me Tk 550,” said Tanzin Ahsan, a private job-holder.Transport operators usually raise Tk 30 to Tk 50 as extra fare during Eid, but things have gone too exorbitant this year, she mentioned.
Banker Ahsan Habib Faisal paid Tk 600 for a ticket of Shyamoli Paribahan for his trip from Dhaka to Gaibandha during Eid.
“The price is up by Tk 150 from the regular rate,” he told daily sun.
Aggrieved travellers said long-distance bus operator Shyamoli Paribahan has charged Tk 560, up by Tk 180, for a one-way trip from Dhaka to Natore.
Hanif Enterprise also charged Tk 550, instead of Tk 450, for a Dhaka-Kushtia ticket, they added.
SR Travels, another operator, charged Tk 500 for a ticket for Dhaka-Bogra trip. The fare was Tk 350 even a month ago.
Again, the regular bus fare on Dhaka-Jhenidah route is Tk 450, but the same bus operators have now charged Tk 550.
A passenger said the normal Dhaka-Raipur fare is Tk 350, but Econo and Dhaka Express are charging 650 as Eid fare.
Meanwhile, Faruk Talukder Sohel, owner of Sohag Paribahan, binned such allegations and said they usually charge lower than the government-fixed fares.
“Our buses return empty to Dhaka during homeward Eid trips. For this, we have to charge extra to adjust it,” added Sohel who is also the chairman of Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners’ Association.
If bus operators overcharge passengers, the government should take action against the racketeers, the transport leader said.
Sohel’s statement is belied by the fact that Sohag Paribahan charges Tk 480 on Dhaka-Jessore route as regular fare against the BRTA-fixed rate of Tk 420.
The bus operator has charged Tk 615 for the same route this Eid.
The country faces an 87.89 per cent transport crisis from Ramadan 22 to 27 while the crisis hits 222.68 per cent after Ramadan 22 as people travel during Eid six times higher than normal time, reveals a study of Jatri Kalyan Samity.
Bus operators resort to doing many irregularities during Eid festivals as a subterfuge to earn extras, Mozammel remarked.
He said transport owners charged extra fare, create additional seats with stools and even take passengers atop their vehicles. They sometimes run unfit buses.
Bijoy Bhushan Pal, director (enforcement) of BRTA, told daily sun that vigilance teams are monitoring the situation, but they are yet to get any complaint.
“Anyone can complain to us and post any allegation on our website to any anomalies in the transport sector. We’ll see to the matter and take action.”
The BRTA official said, “It’s not our duty only to check extra fares, law-enforcers and owners’ associations have to speak out against such nuisance.”