Bus conductors overcharged passengers, heated arguments between transport workers and commuters continue to the bitter end and travellers are often humiliated and assaulted by the drivers and their assistants and forced to get off: these were some of the snapshots of Dhaka roads on Tuesday – the second day of the bus fare hike.
The regulator was also flooded with complaints about growing transport chaos – leaving the passengers in limbo.
Take the example of Shamser Ali who got on a bus in Dhaka's Agargaon for Mirpur-10 intersection – hardly a 4-kilometre route. The conductor asked for Tk20 from him – Tk10 more from the previous fare.
"You have to pay according to the new fares. Do not take the bus if you cannot afford it," the conductor told Shamser as he initially refused to pay the "illogical fare".
Venting anger, Bikash Chandra, a co-traveller of Shamser, said, "General people like us have to bear the brunt in the end as anyone can raise the fares whenever they want."
Like the Agargaon-Mirpur-10 stretch, passengers were found being overcharged by 50%-100% in almost every route even though the government allowed bus fare hike by 28% only for diesel-run vehicles.
But CNG-run buses and auto-rickshaws were also found cashing in on the hike. There was no bus fare below Tk15, despite the government fixed minimum of Tk10.
Mahbub-E-Rabbani, spokesperson at Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Tuesday said they were constantly receiving complaints about overcharging.
According to existing road transport laws, no public transports can charge the passengers extra over the government fixed fares. Violation of the law can meet with a maximum penalty of one-month imprisonment, a fine of Tk10,000 or both.
Mahbub-E-Rabbani said BRTA conducted 11 mobile courts on Tuesday, and the number of such courts would increase further on Wednesday.
Most of the buses on Tuesday did not have the new fare chart though it was supposed to be displayed inside the vehicles from Monday.
Chattogram police said they would mark the CNG-run buses so that the vehicles cannot exploit the recent bus fare hikes. "We will put identification marks on the CNG-run vehicles,"
Shyamal Kumar Nath, additional commissioner (Traffic) of Chattogram Metropolitan Police, told The Business Standard.
Mahbub-E-Rabbani said BRTA is also considering special identification marks for the CNG-run buses in Dhaka
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader called upon the transport leaders not to overcharge the passengers. "Strict action will be taken if they [bus operators] do not refrain from charging more than the readjusted fares," he told a press briefing at the Secretariat Tuesday.
Stating that the government readjusted the fares of diesel-run vehicles in the face of fuel price hikes, the minister said he became aware of overcharging allegations on Monday.