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Strike turns into virtual hartal

Kochi Bureau
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Public transport vehicles stay off road; functioning of many offices hit

The dawn-to-dusk motor transport strike called by the joint action council of transport workers to protest against the hike in petrol price hit normal life in Ernakulam district on Friday.

The city and its suburbs wore a deserted look, as public and private vehicles stayed off the road. Only a few two-wheelers and private cars were seen on the roads. No public mode of transport was available including the services operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the private buses.

The strike affected the functioning of banks and business establishments in many parts of Ernakulam. A hartal-like situation prevailed across the district from the morning. People also preferred to stay indoors in view of the strike.

The functioning of the collectorate was also affected. Out of the 160-odd employees in the collectorate, only 22, including the District Collector and the Additional District Magistrate, turned up for duty. Many offices in the civil station remained closed, while the attendance was low in offices that functioned. Some of the offices which remained open in the morning were found closed in the afternoon.

Patients had a harrowing time getting to hospitals. A woman was left helpless after her son fell from the stairs and needed medical attention.

A neighbouring autorickshaw driver took the boy to hospital in yet another neighbour's car. The injury was not very deep with only a few bruises and a sprained arm.

“My husband is away on tour and this had to happen when there is no vehicle around”, she said, thanking all for the help.

Except for such emergencies, patients in the hospital were very few.

At a large private hospital in the city, where there are usually about 50-80 casualty cases every day, there were about 45 cases. The cases in the out-patient block in the hospital is usually around 700 but the day's turnout was 300.

In yet another private hospital, there was less than 50 per cent of patients in the OP block.

However, in the evening, the cases in the OP became heavy, said the medical superintendent. In the District General Hospital, there were about 35 cases in the casualty and in the OP there were just about 200 cases when the usual numbers are about 800.

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