Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramiah on Monday reached out to Union minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes for help in solving a transportation crisis that has arisen on account of the NHAI effecting a steep tariff hike from Saturday night for usage of an expressway between Bangalore city and the Bangalore international airport.
The chief minister appealed to the NHAI for rationalization in the toll fees after taxi and truck drivers associations went on a snap strike on Sunday and Monday. The protesters have demanded a roll-back in the toll fare and threatened to go on an indefinite strike from Friday on the route to Kempegowda International Airport.
“Its highly unfair to hike the toll fee at this point since the operation of these roads began only in 2013 and even now work is pending. It is an unnecessary action and passengers will have to bear the consequences,” the All India Motor Transport Congress president G R Shanmugappa said. He insisted that the toll must be collected as per the NH toll policy of 1997 and not as per a 2008 agreement. Crucial rules on fare revision had been tweaked to help private companies in the 2008 agreement, he alleged.
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The AIMTC president said the private company that built the road for the NHAI, the Navayuga-Devanahalli Tollway Private Limited, did not inform transporters in advance about the hike. Refuting the claim, a public relation officer for Navayuga said the company had sent a revised chart to all transport companies 15 days earlier with a reminder two days prior to implementation.
The All India Motor Transport Congress members (AIMTC) have decided to call an emergency meeting of both truck and cab operators on Thursday. “If the demands are not accepted, we have no option but to go call-off transport services on the airport road from Friday,” Shanmugappa said.
Meanwhile, transport minister Ramalinga Reddy said he had requested Chief Minister Siddaramiah to intervene and that it would not be necessary for the transporters to go on strike.
Until a decision is taken, drivers will pay the newly hiked fees at the toll gates , which will have to be borne by passengers.
The toll charges for cars have been hiked from Rs 30 to Rs 90 for using the airport expressway.