The dawn-to-dusk State-wide strike by motor transport workers and taxi and autorickshaw drivers on Tuesday to protest against the hike in the price of petrol and diesel, greatly affected normal life.
A ‘bandh-like’ situation prevailed in the capital district as private buses, taxies, autorickshaws, lorries and mini-lorries kept out of the road in response to the strike call by the KSRT Employees association,
private bus workers unions and the joint coordination committee of the taxi and autorickshaw unions.
Attendance was thin in the government offices as the public transport system came to a grinding halt. Most of the educational institutions remained closed. The annual examinations in schools and the University examinations were postponed on account of the stir.
Shops and business establishments downed their shutters. Medical shops and petrol pumps of Civil Supplies Corporation functioned as usual and long queues were seen in front of them.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s effort to operate the long distance services was not successful as protestors blocked the buses at many bus stations in the State. Around 20 per cent of the KSRTC staff reported for duty, a KSRTC official said.
The KSRTC could operate only 250 services in the State. In the capital, the KSRTC could not operate the regular city services. The corporation suffered a loss of Rs. 3 crore on account of the strike.
Those who arrived in trains at Thiruvananthapuram Central Station and by flights at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport after the strike began, were stranded. The police came in handy for the stranded passengers in the railway stations and airport.
Small incidents of violence
The strike was marked by small incidents of violence in the district. Strike supporters damaged the windowpanes of a village office at Malayankeezhu in the early hours. The rural police have booked four Left Democratic Front (LDF) activists on the charge of violating the Prevention of Public Property Destruction Act. They said the agitators attempted to forcibly close the village office.
The supporters of the stir blockaded the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s depots to prevent stage carriage and long distance service operations. The police had to forcibly remove the agitators in several depots, including Vithura and Trivandrum Central.
Strike supporters blocked the buses carrying VSSC employees to the institution’s prime facility at Thumba. The police later removed those who had staged a sit-in on the Kazhakuttom-Thumba road.
In the city, strike supporters attempted to disrupt stage carriage and inter-State long distance services at Thampanoor and Music College junctions. They attacked an autorickshaw carrying passengers at Poonthura. In several places in the city and suburbs, the supporters of the stir blocked private cars and two-wheelers.
The police said they provided escorts to buses transporting passengers to the airport from Thampanoor and Technopark.