Passengers travelling to and from the Bengaluru International Airport were in for a shock when they found that none of the airport taxis were plying on Sunday.
About 1,700 to 2,000 taxi drivers went on strike after one of the taxi drivers died following a suspected heart attack. The drivers claimed that the BIAL had made no immediate arrangements for transporting the driver to a hospital and alleged that he died due to negligence.
One of the airport taxi drivers, on the condition of anonymity, said: “Around 11.30 a.m., a Mega Cabs driver, Maruti Prasanna, aged about 38 years, was in a nearly faint state and we suspect his blood pressure was abnormal. Looking at his condition, we informed the airport personnel. However, they did not act immediately and it was nearly an hour before the ambulance arrived. He was being rushed to the hospital when he died on the way.”
The drivers on strike told The Hindu that it was “negligent on the part of the BIAL authorities” as they could have called some emergency medical personnel to attend to the driver. The drivers are now demanding compensation from Mega Cabs as well as BIAL towards the family of Maruti Prasanna, who is survived by wife and two children. “We have demanded that at least Rs. 10 lakh be jointly given by the cab company and the airport. We will continue the strike till then,” a Mega cab driver said, adding that Maruti Prasanna’s family also arrived at the airport later on Sunday night.
“It has been six years since we started working here, but we do not even have some sheltered areas to park our cars. It is extremely difficult for us in the summer and we have even requested earlier but our demands have not been fulfilled,” they added. They have lodged a complaint with the police as well.
Meanwhile, many passengers had to depend on Vayu Vajra bus services for transport and faced inconvenience. Among them was Venkatesh Babu, a resident of Sahakarnagar, who landed at the airport at 8.20 p.m. on Sunday and found no taxis. “I had just landed from Hyderabad and tried to hire a taxi but was told that none of them were plying. I had to take a bus to reach home,” he said.
Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association Secretary Radhakrishna Holla said that as all drivers of Meru taxi, Mega taxi and KSTDC were participating in the strike, many passengers had been inconvenienced.
Police officials said that Maruti Prasanna, a resident of Peenya, had died a natural death. However, they said that the taxi drivers carried out a peaceful protest. Repeated attempts made by The Hindu to contact BIAL representatives and Mega Cabs went in vain.