Staff Correspondent: CNG-driven public transports in Dhaka are too charging the commuters extra, violating the government directive to only increase fares of diesel-run vehicles.
While visiting different parts of the capital on Monday, our reporters found that several bus companies to have illegally increased their fares by at least 50 percent.
Passengers in Karwan Bazar, Banglamotor, Shahbagh, Paltan, and Motijheel areas claimed that all the buses, diesel-run or nor, were charging extra money.
The government – following a meeting between Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and transport owners on Sunday – had increased the fares for intracity and long-haul buses by 26.5 percent and 27 percent respectively.
It said that the new fares are not applicable for CNG-run vehicles.
Rahat Rahman took the No 8 bus to reach Banglamotor from Gabtoli. “Usually, I pay Tk20 for this distance. But today I had to spend Tk25 despite my bus being a CNG-operated vehicle,” he said.
Zahirul Islam, a supervisor of intracity bus service Bikalapa Auto Services, said that the passengers are paying more as the government has increased bus fares in the wake of the recent fuel price hike.
Asked why the company was charging 30 percent to 50 percent more than the government fixed rate, he said, “Our company has fixed the new fares and we are charging the passengers accordingly. There is no scope for us employees make extra money.”
“We now have to pay Tk15 for travelling a distance of mere 2km. It is us, the general people, who always suffer the most,” said Pabitra Das, one of the passengers of Bikalapa Auto Services, expressing anger and frustration.
HimaloyParibahan minibuses, which run on gas, were charging Tk15 from passengers going from Jatrabari to Motijheel. The fare was Tk10 a couple of days back.
Mizanur Rahman, one of the helpers working for the company, said, “We are charging the passengers extra just like everybody else.
“However, I don’t know if fares for gas-powered vehicles have gone up or not.”
To make matters worse, commuters are finding it difficult to distinguish between CNG and fossil fuel-operated buses.
Moreover, bus supervisors misbehaved when passengers protested the illegal fare hike of gas-run vehicles.
Meanwhile, intercity passengers in Lakshmipur are being forced to spend Tk50 extra for trips to Dhaka and Chattogram.
Jobayer Hossain, a ticket seller working for Jonaki Transport (Lakhsimur-Chittagong route), said, “We are currently selling our tickets at Tk350. The fare was Tk300 before the hike.”
Md Ahsan Ullah, who needed to go to Chattogram earlier this week but could not due to the strike, said, “Bus services have resumed but with increased fares. Only the passengers are to suffer for this.”
The government hiked diesel and kerosene prices by Tk15 to Tk80 per litre on 3 November, citing a volatile global market for crude oil. In response, transport owners and workers called an indefinite nationwide strike, demanding either a rise in fares or a reversal of the hike.
Commuters had a harrowing time for three days. In Dhaka, most modes of public transports including buses, both intra and inter-city, stayed off the roads adding to the miniseries of the general people.
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