- ‘Do they want to earn everything which they could not last year?
- Haven’t we suffered losses,’ says harried commuter
Shopian: People in Pulwama and Shopian districts are as angry as they are helpless against cab drivers who are charging them double fares and also cramming them into vehicles without any concern for Covid-19 infection.
Many commuters in these districts told Kashmir Reader that nothing is being done by the authorities to protect the public from such loot and risk to health.
“Everyone knows that Kashmir is witnessing over 500 cases of Covid on daily basis, despite that cab drivers are charging double from passengers and without maintaining any social distance. They were told to charge double only if they carry half the number of passengers,” said Rizwan Ahmad Pal, a resident of Rajpora Pulwama.
Locals said that the problem of overcharging and violation of SOPs with regard to social distancing is being faced on every route.
Nadeem Ahmad, a resident of Zainpora area of Shopian, said that passengers are being charged Rs 100 for a ride to Shopian town, and the same for return.
Ten to eleven passengers are being boarded into a Sumo, which has capacity of only 9 passengers, Ahmad said. “The normal rate from Zainpora to Shopian is Rs 40, but we are being charged Rs 100,” he said, appealing to the Deputy Commissioner to do something about this open flouting of government rules.
Locals from Trenz, Turkwangam and other areas of Shopian district voiced similar complaints. They accused drivers and cab unions of taking advantage of the Covid19 pandemic and giving no thought to the financial crisis that most people are facing.
“Do they want to earn everything which they could not last year? Haven’t we suffered losses,” asked Arshid Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Ratnipora.
Assistant regional transport officer (ARTO) Shopian, Mouzam Ali Shah, who also holds additional charge of Pulwama district, told Kashmir Reader that he knew cab drivers were charging double fares. “I am receiving such complaints daily, and we even conduct drives to challan those violating the SOPs. But dearth of staff doesn’t let us put an end to this mess,” he said, adding that the traffic police is the law enforcing agency but they, too, lack staff.
“We held a meeting with the heads of transport unions, but in meetings they agree on everything and when they start their operations, they violate everything to which they agreed,” Shah said, while assuring strict action against the law violators.