Workers in Mangalore Division join the indefinite strike on Friday

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus services came to a halt in Mangalore and Puttur on Friday as employees decided to support the indefinite strike called by the Joint Committee of KSRTC trade unions. Police caned a group of KSRTC employees that tried to stop a private bus from picking up the passengers stranded at the Mangalore KSRTC bus stand.

The KSRTC bus services came to a halt from 9 a.m. Many drivers and conductors did not turn up at the four KSRTC depots. Those who took out the vehicles in the morning returned to the respective depots, said KSRTC Mangalore Divisional Controller M. Mahesh. Buses from neighbouring places, including Dharmasthala, which came to the bus stand in the morning, did not resume service.

The turnaround of the Mangalore Division employees, who worked on Thursday, caused hardship to many passengers who were stranded in the bus stands in Mangalore and neighbouring places. Anticipating the problem, Mr. Mahesh had passed orders to allow private bus operators into the KSRTC bus stands and pick up passengers as per the orders from the KSRTC head office.

But a private bus bound for Mysore was stopped by KSRTC employees from entering the Mangalore bus stand at around 11 a.m. The police had to resort to caning to disperse the agitating employees. Eyewitnesses said the private bus left without picking passengers stranded at the stand.

Among those who missed the bus were Tausif and his three colleagues from Periyapatna. The four, who work for an iron cupboard making unit in Kavoor, were waiting for more than two hours for a bus to Mysore.

Mr. Mahesh said private bus operators can take police protection to enter KSRTC bus stands till the strike was called off. The disruption of service in the Mangalore and Puttur divisions on Friday has caused loss of around Rs. 1 crore, he said.

The stoppage of bus service affected people in towns across the district. Many people were stranded at the bus stand of pilgrimage centre Kukke Subramanya. Lokesh Anand, his brother and 70-year-old mother were waiting for more than an hour for a bus to Kadaba, which is barely 20 km away.

Stranded

Udupi Staff Correspondent reports:

Long-distance travellers continued to suffer for the second consecutive day as most of the day-time buses did not turn up at the KSRTC bus stand in Udupi on Friday.

As many as 210 buses pass through Udupi daily. But the KSRTC bus stand was deserted. According to a traffic controller at the bus stand, only five buses from Hubli passed through Udupi till 9.30 a.m. as against 30 on normal days.

The situation had not changed much in the afternoon. Another traffic controller said that no bus had come to the Udupi stand from 11 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.

Traffic controllers had a tough time explaining to passengers about the movement of buses. Many passengers came to the bus stand to cancel their tickets which they had booked a few days earlier.

Cancellations

Nagaraj, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology, said that he had booked a ticket to Bangalore via Mangalore. The bus was scheduled to leave at 9 a.m. from Mangalore on Friday. He had decided to cancel his bus ticket because of the strike. He would instead go to Shimoga by a private bus and take a train to Bangalore from there, he said.

Swatantra Kumar from Kolar said he had booked a ticket from Udupi to Bangalore in a bus scheduled to leave at 10 p.m. on Friday. “But the traffic controller told me to call at 9 p.m. and confirm if the 10 p.m. bus was available or cancel the ticket. Private bus is expensive for a retired person like me,” he said.

Vardhaman Chabbi, who had come from Goa with three members of his family, wanted to go to Dharmasthala. But he was informed that there was no KSRTC bus to Dharmasthala in the afternoon. “I think I will have to hire a taxi,” he said.

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