The news of the death of a person in Guntur district reached the family in the city on the wee hours of Saturday. Within no time, bags were packed, and the bereaved family was all set to go, only to find that there were no buses. The RTC had suspended its services thanks to the ongoing agitations in the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions, and there was no sign of private buses plying at that time.
“We had to search for an alternative and could arrange for a taxi only after two hours. As the vehicle did not have enough capacity, half of our family members had to stay back,” M. Shekar, a government employee, lamented.
But Shekar’s family members could attend the emergency only because they engaged a ‘private’ cab for a return journey. Others who want to go to their destinations have to shell out exorbitant fares as one has to pay for the return journey as well.
“Private buses only go to major cities, and with the RTC suspending most of its services, going to smaller towns and villages becomes difficult even when we have to attend emergencies,” N. Ramana Reddy, a trader, complained. Not many cab owners are willing to operate due to the risk involved, he observed.
Though cabs and taxis are mostly staying off the roads, some private bus operators are conducting services on less frequented routes to circumvent trouble-hit stretches. Taking a diversion, despite taking more time, is a better idea than to drive through the agitation-hit areas, P. Ramaraju, a private bus driver said.
“Coming from Bangalore usually takes 10 hours, but with agitations in Anantapur and Kurnool, we had to take detour through Guntakal, Pattikonda and Yemmiganur, resulting in more than 18 hours of journey,” he said.