Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, a passengers' welfare platform, has alleged that transport owners, workers and extortionists are looting Tk8,000 crore by overcharging and extortion from the Eid holiday-makers across the country this season.
Secretary General of the samity Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury at a media briefing in Dhaka Thursday pointed the finger at the public transport crisis, which allows the syndicate to cash in on the situation.
The total number of trips in highways, waterways and airways has been estimated to be around 60 crore, which will take place from 25 April to 10 May, he added.
"According to Jatri Kalyan Samity's observation, rickshaw fares in urban areas have increased by an average of 20% since 25 April and it is likely to surge further. At the same time, fares of battery-run auto-rickshaws have doubled and even tripled in some places. Human haulers (laguna) on all routes are also collecting double than usual fares from passengers," he said.
In a written statement, Mozammel Hoque said, "The fare anarchy has reached its peak. Dhaka-Barisal airfare now costs more than that on the Dhaka-Bangkok route. On this route, US-Bangla Airlines is currently charging passengers Tk10,600 per flight, which was Tk4,000 earlier," he said.
"Similarly, Novoair has raised the Dhaka-Barisal fare to Tk6,400 from Tk4,800. Biman Bangladesh also raised the ticket price to Tk8,400 from Tk3,000."
Airfares in other routes have also been hiked for Eid travel, he added.
Mozammel Haque claimed that taking advantage of the public transport crisis, a strong syndicate has been formed under the leadership of some unscrupulous businessmen.
The government has not been able to stop such rent anarchy despite various efforts as some dishonest members of the law enforcement agencies are also involved here, he said.
Rail tickets are being sold on the black market. Meanwhile, people are standing in queues for long hours to get tickets at rail stations and the online tickets are running out so quickly, leaving tens of thousands ticket seekers in despair, he said.
Professor Md Hadiuzzaman, director of Accidental Research Institute (ARI) at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said, "As per a research done by Buet, around 1.15 crore people left Dhaka during the Eid holidays in 2019."
However, the number declined significantly in the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic. As normalcy began to return after two years, the number of people leaving the capital is likely to surge this year, he added.