ALL KOLKATA-BASED bus associations are set to go on strike on April 18, demanding an increase in fares and also to protest against the hike in the premiums that operators have to pay to insure their vehicles. Sources said almost all of the 60,000-odd buses that ply daily, including mini-buses and school and tourist buses, would go off the roads. The associations are demanding a rollback of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority’s decision to increase premiums for third party insurances by nearly 50 per cent. At present, all operators have to opt for third party insurances to insure their vehicles, and pay from their own pockets.
“We are protesting against the proposed hike in third party insurance premiums. It will be an added burden to transporters. Besides, we are also demanding a fare hike. We are already running in loss, it is difficult for us to sustain our services,” said Tapan Bandopadhyay of Joint Council of Bus Syndicate.
Operators alleged that around 25 per cent buses have already gone off roads. “With increasing costs, the trade will die,” said another member of the association. He claimed the state government had increased fares last time in 2014.
“We have a lot of issues… bus drivers are often harassed and punished for no fault and asked to pay hefty fines. We want the government to look into the matter and announce a hike so that we are not overburdened,” said a member of a mini-bus association.