OIL PRICES CUT, A CUMIN IN CAMEL'S MOUTH

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
June 7 - 13, 20
10

Transporters have termed 8-per cent cut in oil prices mere an eyewash and declined to slash transport fares for the benefit of masses.

Transporters were of the view that the government had nominally reduced diesel price and since most of the transport vehicles are on diesel, it is not possible for them to reduce the transport fare.

On the other hands, passengers are critical of the government authorities and blamed them for joining hands with the transporters and remaining silent spectators over the reluctance of transporters to reduce fares despite cut in oil prices.

It may be noted that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) slashed prices of petroleum products by 8-per cent on last Saturday in line with reduction in global oil prices.

Passengers, who use public transport, have not yet received any relief from transporters. They accused the transporters as well authorities for failing to ensure appropriate steps regarding passing the benefit of cut in oil prices to the common person. After the announcement of reduction in diesel prices, arguments between transporters and commuters were witnessed, as commuters insisted on revised fares and transporters refused to do so.

Naveed, a resident of Shahdara, said that the government had failed to stop public transporters from overcharging and that they were forced to pay high fares. They urged the government to take effective measures to provide relief to the people after reduction in domestic oil prices.

"Whenever there is an increase of even a single rupee in the price of diesel, transporters increase fares manifold immediately, which is disproportionate to actual increase in diesel prices. Now when the diesel price has come down, they are refusing to bring down fares," he whined.

According to him, he spends up to Rs1,500 per month on transport while his total salary is around Rs6,000 per month. He further said that fares were very high as compared to salaries of the people. He termed high rates of transport major cause of inflation and shrinking in buying power of residents.

On the other hand, transporters criticised the government for reducing the price of petrol by more than diesel. The decision was aimed at benefiting the elites who use petrol cars, as the price of petrol was reduced by Rs6.04, whereas the price of diesel, which is used by public transport vehicles, was reduced by Rs1.72 only, they alleged.

Transporters said that public transporters would reduce fares if the government further slashed diesel as the present decrease in price is mere deception. They were of the opinion that in the current situation, transporters were unable to cut fares as they were hardly earning their livelihood. They urged the government to reduce fuel prices according to international markets, saying that transporters were already charging low fares.

Further, there is shortage of public transport vehicles, as no one is willing to invest in transport sector.

In big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad, there was a massive shortage of public transport vehicles. Although, the government is making tall claims about overcoming the problem, yet still a lot is to be done in this regard.

Two-stroke rickshaws are also a matter of concern. These rickshaws not only cause noise pollution but also add health problems for people through smoke emission.

Experts believe that improvements to urban public transport in less developed countries are of growing importance as population, motorisation, and associated problems increase. "There is evidence that urban development is hampered by the inadequate supply of public transport services," they said.

According to them, poorly administered public transport, providing inefficient, unreliable, low quality services is leading to the choice of alternative modes of travel. In turn, this contributes to a worsening of congestion and other transport problems.

They called for providing a comprehensive transport policy by the government to streamline things to provide better transport facilities to public.