Bhopal: 25,000 buses keep off road giving harrowing time to commuters

Bhopal: Normal life was affected in state capital on Tuesday as nearly 25,000 public transport buses including inter-district and city remained off the roads in support of a nationwide strike called by the transport unions to protest against the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill.

Strike caused inconvenience to hundreds of office-goers, students and also passengers arriving from different cities at city bus stands and railway stations. The strike, against some provisions of the bill and rise in prices of petroleum products, began at Monday midnight. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and is now awaiting Rajya Sabha’s approval.

Passengers at Nadra Bus stand, ISBT, Putlighar, Jawahar Chowk, Railway stations faced tough time waiting for hours to get transport. To make matter worse, many passengers did not get inter-district buses. Taking advantage of strike, auto rickshaws operators had a field day charging inflated fares from passengers.

Low floor buses, which were initially not on strike, were targeted by protestors and they too had to join the striking public transports. In Mandideep and Karond, low floor buses were attacked and damaged and even passengers were forced to de-board them. PN Verma, state’s member of All India Road Transport workers Federation, claimed that nearly 12,000 inter-city buses did not depart from the state capital, while over 13,000 city buses remained following strike.

“We are against the amendment in motor vehicle act as with its enactment, conductors and cleaners will lose their jobs. Secondly, driving license will be renewed after test. So, even drivers will lose their jobs. Private players will be allowed in transport business,” said Verma.

However, chairman of BCCL bus transport private limited Kewal Mishra, claimed that low-floor buses plied as usual but public transporters who were on strike, targeted our buses in city as well as in Mandideep. Admiting that passengers faced problems due to strike, Mishra claimed that they tried to maintained the transport services.

The Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill (MV Bill) has provisions which opens up the public transport sector for the private players and also control and regulate permits and taxation. It also aims to create National Transportation Policy within the ambit of a national Act giving power to the Centre. Public Transportation System at present is a state subject and is operated by State Transport Undertakings (STUs) under the direct control of the State Government.

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