In what is seen as a relief to thousands of passengers, the inter-state bus strike by private operators from Kerala has been called off on Monday. The decision was announced after bus operators from Interstate Bus Owners Association (IBOA) were given assurances by Kerala government that fines related to inter-state permits will not be a stumbling block in operations. The bus operators also agreed to set up a redressal system to address passenger grievances.
Confirming the development to Indianexpress.com, a private bus operator in Madiwala reiterated that the Kerala state government was trying to generalise all operators based on complaints raised against Kallada, a private bus operator. “In a way, we were forced to call off the strike as talks with the transport department failed to take our problems into consideration. Avoiding services for more than a week has had a cascading effect on our finances,” the operator said.
A video of two passengers being assaulted by employees of Kallada had gone viral which led to many such incidents in buses run by the same operator coming to light. Several passengers had approached the transport department and had taken to online media to express their concern over the operator’s staff allegedly ill-treating passengers.
Rejikumar, general secretary of Kerala Samajam (Bangalore), suggested that the government should continue to monitor trips of private buses to ensure passenger safety.”The government should oversee that all operators comply with the laws. The atrocious hike in bus ticket prices during the festive seasons, especially during Christmas and Onam should also be regulated. An upper limit of ticket prices if being set by the government would be of huge relief to thousands of passengers,” he said.
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While buses operators have resumed services after a week’s break, passengers hope their travel will be a lot safer from now on.
Abhijit A, a law consultant who regularly commutes to Kerala, said that the indefinite nature of the strike forced him to cancel a couple of trips due to unavailability of alternative travel options. “I hope to use the new grievance redressal system in place as I was charged cancellation fees for my bus that was cancelled last Friday on account of the strike,” he said.