May 25, 2024, 8:50 pm

Anarchy over bus fare reigns northern roads despite opening of new overpasses, bridge

  • Update Time : Sunday, April 7, 2024
  • 349 Time View
The view of a newly opened overpass on the Dhaka-North Bengal highway at Panchliya area in Sirajganj District. Photo: TDS

Special Correspondent:

Allegation has been intensified that, a section of unscrupulous bus owners and workers has created anarchy on the roads and highways in the northern region including Bogura and Sirajganj over realizing additional fare ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the largest religious festivals of the Muslims.

They are realizing double or in some cases three times higher fare from the general and homebound passengers in the name of bus shortage compared to the current demand. As a result, all the efforts of the government in context of preventing excessive fare collection from the passengers are going in vain, experts opined.

On the other hand, homebound people are facing economic pressure ahead of Eid due to bearing additional expenditures.

According to the statistics of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, about 12 million people will leave the capital city Dhaka for enjoying Eid holidays with their near and dear ones. Similarly about same number of people will return to the capital again from different places of the country after celebrating Eid. Of them, a majority of the people lives in 16 districts of the northern region.

Amzad Hossain, a government job holder, who was waiting for a bus of SR Paribahan at Thanthaniya bus terminal in Bogura, said, “I have purchased a ticket of SR Paribahan with Tk 16,00, which is doubled compared to the regular rate.”

Ariful Islam, a jobholder of Sirajganj town said, “I shall go to Dhaka with my family tomorrow to enjoy Eid festival. But, I have forced to pay Tk 500 per head against the regular rate at Tk 350. In this situation, I had to pay additional Tk 600 against four tickets.”

There is an allegation that, those, who collect tickets from are being forced to pay additional money to collect bus tickets ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.

It is learnt from the source that, Alhamra Paribahan departed from Rangpur realizes Tk 2,000 for each ticket from the passenger against the usual rate of Tk 900.

Tk 3,000 is being realized as fare of Dhaka bound AC coach of Hanif Enterprise from Panchaghar against the usual fare of Tk 2000.

Mosharraf Hossain, General Manager of Hanif Enterprise said, “We have increased the fare of bus tickets ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr as the fuel cost of our transports has increased compared to the previous period due to huge pressure of passengers and traffic congestions at different points on the roads during the ongoing scorching heat.”

Abu Raihan, General Secretary of Bangladesh Bus-Truck Owners Association said, “We are realizing fare fixed by the government. Few bus owners and workers might have been realized additional money as most of the times buses return to Dhaka empty after providing service to district levels. For want of passengers, the transport owners cannot recoup fuel costs. This is why, they sometimes collect additional fare, which is known to the law enforcers.”

A traffic inspector in Bogura seeking anonymity told that, “An average of 2.5 million people leave Dhaka daily before Eid. Almost the same number of people will leave for the capital Dhaka from different areas after celebrating Eid. But surprisingly buses, trains and launches, which are known as the main public transports of the country, have the capacity to transport highest 1.5 million passengers a day. Due to this huge difference between the demand and supply, fare anarchy is created somewhere of the roads and highways during each Eid holidays. With the starting of Eid holidays, holidaymakers start leaving working places with the aim to reach home for enjoying Eid festival with their relatives. Taking the advantage, some unscrupulous transport owners and workers realize double to triple fares trapping the passengers on the plea of transport shortage.”

It is to be mentioned that, bus is the main transport for the people of northern region. In the last Eid-ul-Fitr, it was observed that huge number of holidaymakers crossed long route to celebrate Eid holidays with their family members by motorbikes taking high risk of life.

This time, the government has issued special instructions regarding the movement of motorcycles on the highways centering the Eid with a view to reduce accidents and traffic congestions. However, allegation has been intensified that, the bus owners and workers have been increased the fare as per their will. The terrible thing is that, oldest and ordinary buses are realizing double to three times high charges compared to the regular fare just after setting an AC on the modified buses.

During a spot visit to SI, Ovi, Zenin, Sirajganj Line and Seba line counter in Sirajganj and Banani, Thanthania and Charmatha Bus Terminal in Bogura, this correspondent found that, all the buses are charging almost doubled fare against the prescribed fare on various pretexts. In some cases, passengers are being transported on extra chairs by sitting besides the driver. In the same way, additional fare is also being charged in front of the traffic police. But all of them is playing silent role in this regard.

Khandaker Enayet Ullah, General Secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association said, “We have deployed some people in the field in a bid to resist passenger harassment and additional fare collection. However, if we get any complaint in this regard, we will take drastic action against the involved people.”

Transport sector sources said, the government don’t fix the fare of AC buses. Taking the advantages, transport owners and workers increase fare as per their will.

On the other hand, buses of many companies don’t sell advance tickets. They realize additional charges from the passengers during the Eid as per their wish. This is why, police have nothing to do in this regard.

On the other hand, a bridge and three overpasses at Panchiliya, Mulibari and Dadpur area in Sirajganj district were opened on Saturday morning to avert traffic gridlock in the northern region during the Eid holidays.

Obaidul Quader, Road Transports and Bridge Minister in a virtual meeting inaugurated the overpasses and bridge marking the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr.

The people of 22 districts in the northern and southern regions of the country travel throughout 22 km highway via Bangabandhu Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge to Hatikumrul intersection. Normally about 17,000 to 20,000 vehicles ply throughout this highway every day. However, this number increases several times before Eid. Traffic gridlocks occur every year due to excessive appearance of homebound holidaymakers before and after of the Eid, causing extreme suffering to commuters and drivers. Newly constructed overpasses were opened to avoid this suffering, relevant sources said.

Md. Zafrullah, Traffic Inspector (TI) of Sirajganj told The Daily Sky, “Traffic department with the directive and assistance of the Police Super Arifur Rahman Mandal has taken extensive preparations to prevent all types of anarchy including extortion on the roads and highways around Eid. We hope that, this year, the homebound people will be able to return homes much more comfortably and safely than the previous years.”

“Even after this, if any discrepancy is reported anywhere; we will prevent it with firm hands,” he added.

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