Near total response to strike called by autorickshaw drivers' union
BANGALORE: About 80,000 autorickshaws in the city remained off the road on Thursday when their drivers went on a strike demanding withdrawal of certain permit clauses by the Transport Department. The strike that coincided with the general strike called by Joint Committee of Trade Unions was peaceful but for a couple of minor incidents.
The strike caused hardship to commuters who depended on autorickshaws. While the BMTC inducted extra buses, they were overcrowded. At several places, the union leaders stopped a few autorikshaws that were running.
Raju Sharma, who was travelling to New Delhi, reached the railway station around 1.30 p.m. well ahead of the scheduled departure. He said, "the autorikshaw strike had affected the movement of public, and buses were crowded. I came to the station five hours in advance just to ensure that I am on time."
Anticipating inconvenience to the commuters, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) ran additional buses and increased the trips of its fleet.
BMTC Chief Traffic Manager Dastagir Sharief told The Hindu that the corporation operated 83,000 trips on Thursday that included 6,000 additional trips. He said, "4,430 buses had been pressed into service to meet the demand. Volvo bus services were operated only in the afternoon."
To benefit those who were arriving in the city from different destinations, the BMTC ran more than 40 special services from Bangalore City Railway Station. Sarathi, mobile squad of BMTC, was operated from the railway station to synchronise the bus services with the arrival of trains.
Even as the autorikshaw drivers went on strike, the city taxi operators made a killing.
Almost all operators had their taxis running to full capacity on a day when commuters were left with no alternative.
K. Anand Rao of Anand City Taxi, Peenya, said that all his taxies had been booked for Thursday, and most of them were used by the industries to bring employees from different parts of the city. Similarly, other taxi operators had good bookings for Thursday.
The metered taxi owners at the Bangalore City Railway Station said that it was business as usual for them since the BMTC was running additional buses to cater to the demand. Even as the harried passengers coming out of the railway station were looking for cheap mode of travel, Ameen Jan, in his late 50s, had his bit to offer. For, expecting a good income on a day when autorikshaws were off the road, Ameen Jan had spruced up his tonga and was offering passengers a ride. He said, "Though I normally transport goods in my tonga, I brought my tonga to the railway station expecting to earn well by ferrying passengers." But there were not many takers.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) N.S. Megharikh said the police had arrested two persons, including an autorikshaw driver, after they allegedly threw stones at two BMTC buses at S.J. Park.
The police have recovered a petrol can from the two. In another incident, two autorikshaw drivers were taken into custody at Wilson Garden when they attempted to prevent vehicle movement.
Mr. Megharikh said that instructions had been given to prevent any traffic snarls arising out of the autorikshaw strike in the city.