A senior functionary of the All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA), which is leading the agitation, said that over one lakh passenger-carrying vehicles, including private city buses in Guwahati, are off the roads.
However, despite the strike, all buses belonging to and running under the Assam State Transport Corporation have been plying as usual. Cabs operating under aggregator services like Ola and Uber are also functioning.
AAMTA secretary general Pradip Das told The Indian Express that they have demanded a two-quarter tax remission to counter the losses due to the pandemic. “Moreover, we have asked that since city buses are operating at 50 per cent capacity, therefore the fare should be increased. There should be some increase even if not doubled,” Das said. He added that an extension of at least six months must be given for the insurance that transporters have already paid.
Das claimed that since most flights are operating on full capacity, buses too should also be allowed to function at full capacity. “The onus should be put on people to wear masks and maintain social distancing and not crowd into jammed buses. But the government is putting all responsibility only on us,” he said.
On Tuesday, Assam Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had met representatives of various transport associations and urged them to call off their strike. “The motor associations insisted on doubling the bus fare, but the minister said that people are under tremendous economic pressure in the pandemic situation,” said an official statement from Patowary’s office.
“The minister stated that bus fare cannot be increased as it would not be wise to double the fare immediately in the current circumstances. However, he assured to look into all other aspects of their demands without harming the public interest,” the statement said.
The statement added, “The associations demanded for carrying passengers in full seat capacity instead of the present 50 per cent capacity under Covid-19 regulations. The transport minister immediately took up the matter with the Health and Family Welfare Department. The Health Department agreed to it and necessary notification will be issued in due course.”
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