Passenger accuse transporters of overcharging, flouting COVID SOPs

Soon after the COVID lockdown was eased from mid August, the authorities allowed public transport to ply on Srinagar roads on conditions that SOPs to prevent spread of the fatal infection would be strictly followed.

However commuters here have accused the transporters of flouting the SOPs. Many commuters told Greater Kashmir that some cab operators were overcharging and at the same time flouting the guidelines which prohibit filling all the passenger seats.

“This not only risks our lives but passengers end up paying double fare,” said a passenger. “I was commuting via Hazratbal area, and as the vehicle left the driver allowed only half the seats to be filled but after a few minutes the vehicle was packed with passengers.”

Hilal Ahmed, another commuter, said the administration should ensure strict adherence to the COVID SOPs by setting up teams for surprise checking of the passengers’ vehicles.

He said the transporters were following the SOPs only around traffic police check points.

Aijaz Ahmed, another passenger said he boarded a passenger vehicle in Batamaloo where the driver despite allowing people to occupy all seats asked for double charge.

“Everyone is already financially struggling due to prolonged lockdown and now we are made to pay double fare while no SOPs are followed. Most of us who are using public transport come from low income group and can’t afford double charges,” said Ahmed.

ARTO, Manzoor Ahmed said authorities were doing everything possible to make transporters adhere to the SOPs. He said commuters also need to do their part so that SOPs were not violated.

“We have pressed men and special teams to check the SOPs are being followed by the transporters as per the direction of district administration. It is impossible to be present everywhere and hence it is important for passengers to play a proactive role. They should not board the vehicles which flout the SOPs. We are taking action where we feel COVID protocols are not followed,” Ahmed said.