Exorbitant transportation fare in Meghalaya: A mess to be cleaned up in 2021
Lucky are those who live in the heart of Shillong, Meghalaya, who do not have to travel on vehicles. Unfortunate are those who reside farther from the city and their workplaces.
I wish I could walk all the way home without depending on transportation. If I had stronger feet, I would have marched miles to get to my destination. But I can't, because I need to be on time when I get home and I need to be on time at work. So I will rely on transportation, a gift indeed that saves both time and vigour.
But there have been tremendous changes in transportation ever since the pandemic swept the nation.
"The petrol price is increasing!"
"Must maintain social distancing while travelling."
"Transportation fare should be increased because the capacity of passengers has been decreased."
The people have accepted whatever the authorities imposed. The people have somehow even managed to keep up with the expensive fare that skyrocketed right after the lockdown, despite their salaries remain stagnant.
The pandemic was surely a prominent cause for the expensive transportation fare. But, how long is the pandemic going to be used as an excuse to make ordinary and poor people pay an unaffordable amount for travelling?
It is all fine with the citizens to pay as long as social distancing is actually practised. But buses nowadays are overcrowded with passengers that brim till the footboards.
Hence, if there is no such distancing, and drivers are earning well out of stuffing passengers, why is the bus fare not being decreased to what it usually was?
The common bus fare for travelling within any town in Shillong would usually be Rs 10 per individual but ever since the pandemic outbreak, it has been increased to Rs 20 because of the social distancing norm.
But if the norm is not being practised anymore, why isn't the fare being decreased either?
Some taxi drivers are frustratingly fluctuating. A cab from Motphran to Laitumkhrah in Shillong today would cost Rs 20 but on the next day, while going to the same place only with a different driver, the fare would be Rs 30.
The situation is just being taken advantage of in every possible way. Even drivers do not know what's the preferable amount to charge a passenger. Most of them charge people with whatever price they like.
One universal truth about the transportation in Meghalaya is that whenever the transportation fare increases even by 5 or 10 rupees, it will never decrease again. As for now, prices expanded from 20-50, 40-100 and 180-400 rupees.
In conclusion, the prices will not decline, because I have never heard of such good news ringing through my ears throughout my whole existence.
What the government can do is, to lay down specifically, the prices and fares for vehicles that transport people, and impose an austere fine to anyone who violates or exploits a passenger.
Most of us are only being exploited because we do not have any idea of how much we have to pay and how much not to.
Many people have left their previous houses and shifted closer to their places of work because they couldn't keep up with the increased fare.
Transportation is the most important aspect of trade and business. People need to travel in order to boost the economy and feed their bellies. But more than a quarter of people's income get drained only in transportation.
I, as an ordinary person, continue to hope that the fare will decline. I hope for a change and I hope that my pen will echo loud enough to be able to contribute to this change.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinion expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TNT-The Northeast Today)