Pune: Private bus operators in the city observed a day-long strike on Friday to support a nationwide strike demanding redressal of issues faced by transporters. The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) is spearheading the agitation, which caused inconvenience to hundreds of passengers, who were travelling out of the city ahead of the weekend.
The state transport plied 20 buses for Dadar, Nashik and Aurangabad from Pune.
However, passengers planning to visit their native places were forced to cancel tickets as buses did not ply during the strike.
Sachin Pardesi, a pharmacist, had planned to go to Nashik, said, “I have a meeting on Saturday. Accordingly, I booked a ticket for Friday. When I came to know about the strike, I cancelled my ticket and would travel by a private cab. I have no option but to pay extra to reach my destination.”
“We are demanding that diesel should be brought within the purview of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to help stabilise prices. This will also make prices to remain uniform across the country. Another demand pertains to toll tax. We are not opposing the levying of toll, but are demanding that there has to be a more efficient system for collection of toll to reduce time,” said Prasanna Patwardhan, of Prasanna Purple Travels, who heads the Maharashtra Rajya Truck, Tempo, Bus Vahatuk Mahasangha.
He said another demand was bringing transparency in vehicle insurance operations. “Every year, our share has increased by 15-20 per cent. While the accident rate is same for last several years, the premium is going up every year. We want companies to provide us access to know how much claims they have paid,” said Patwardhan.
Rajan Junawane of Pune Bus Owners’ Association, said the association will adopt a wait and watch policy to see how the government responds to demands. “If they don’t provide relief, we may go on an indefinite strike to support the agitation launched nationwide,” said Junawane.
On its part, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) plied additional buses to accommodate the spillover of passengers it experienced due to the strike. “As the strike happened on the weekend, we decided to ply more buses to Aurangabad, Nashik and Dadar. There was a rush on Friday due to non-operation of private buses,” said a depot manager with MSRTC.
Inconvenience to parents and students
While the city private buses joined the strike called by All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) across the country, it disturbed the routine chores especially of parents and students on Friday.
While many parents took leave to drop and pick up their children from the school, some parents had to juggle between their office and school time to pick up their children from schools.
“Since my two children have different closing times at the school, both, me and my husband had to take time out of the office hours to pick up our children accordingly. My daughter is in the high school so her school gets over in the morning and my son, who is in primary school, gets free around afternoon,” said Aparna Sinha from Sangvi.
Many schools had given holiday to students due to the transport strike.
However, since the notification was circulated late in the evening, many parents missed the messages and managed to send their children to school early in the morning.
“We didn’t read the messages on school groups that arrived late in the night that school will remain closed on Friday due to the strike. The children got ready and were waiting for their school bus to pick them up at their usual time. However, after a while when the school bus didn’t come, we decided to drop them to school which is 8 km away from our house. After reaching school, we realised the school is closed for the day,” said Sanjay Singh, a parent based in Lohegaon.