The prices of petroleum products like oil and gas have always been subject to fluctuations in the international market.
The most recent fluctuation has nothing to do with the world has never seen before. It is said to be the product of a truly global energy crisis that governments near and far have tried to alleviate through diplomacy, trade and politics.
However, in the case of Pakistan, which is already battling political instability on top of its worst economic crisis, soaring oil prices have pushed millions of people in the country to the brink of bankruptcy.
Any type of fuel price change almost always has an immediate impact on the price of other products and services such as food and transportation. However, the Provincial Transportation Authority (PTA) exists to maintain transmission tariffs, but its powers are limited to inter-district transmission, while there is no benchmark for inter-provincial transmission tariffs.
For this reason, residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa have been slapped with massive hikes in transport prices. Afridi, who is waiting for a Hiace bus to Islamabad, finds the new exorbitant fares unprecedented, with no bearing on government regulations. He hasn’t bought the bus ticket yet, hoping to convince the driver to offer a more reasonable price. He is the only passenger to prevent this private bus from moving, but his efforts seem futile.
“We don’t have an official price list for travel between Peshawar and Islamabad and we adjust our prices according to oil prices,” said Akbar Ali, the bus driver, who is in no mood to answer. Afridi’s request for a bargain. and has already refused him the ticket.
However, according to Afridi, who works at a shop in the federal capital, there is a significant difference between the fares sought by buses from Islamabad and those from Peshawar. “When I came here a few days ago, the bus fare from Islamabad to Peshawar was Rs 400. Now that I am going back, these drivers are asking me for Rs 470,” he complained, adding that he had tried to file a complaint about it at the bus stop office, but there was no one to listen to him.
According to PTA officials, inter-provincial rates are never regulated and the government has no control over what a private service decides to charge. “No, you won’t find an official price list anywhere since these modes of transport are mostly deregulated because there is a difference between the cost of travel to and from Peshawar,” PTA secretary Asad said. Sarwar, when he raised Afridi’s concerns.
According to the transporters however, it is not them but the government’s inability to contain the rise in oil prices that is to blame. “The government does not regulate our prices, so business decisions are based on covering our overhead costs. We always adjust fares in the month of June, but this year’s inflation bomb and soaring fuel prices meant we also had to raise our fares from Rs50 to Rs70, to stay in business,” the chairman commented. of the Transport Workers’ Union, Moor Muhammad Mohmand.
According to Mohmand, the situation has been rather unpredictable. “Listen, we have to feed our children and when these fuel prices go up, what options do we have left and that too in the absence of an official list – of course we have to do it on our own,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10e2022.