: Even as commuters in the city prepare to brace for a three-day bus strike later in the week, taxi drivers stayed away from roads here on Monday adding to passenger woes.
The decision of taxi operators, to stay away from roads against the State government’s policies and police atrocities during the day, acted as a prelude to the bleak public transport situation the city is going to face this week.
Bus operators, who have been demanding a fare hike over the past few months, will be going on strike from August 20 to 22.
Taxi drivers’ associations, affiliated to the Left Front’s labour arms, assembled at the Metro channel in the heart of the city to protest the State government’s apathy towards them. The demonstration was in protest against the State government moving to a higher court seeking cancellation of bail of 22 taxi drivers who were arrested earlier this month.
The taxi drivers were arrested after they suddenly declared a strike and vandalised other taxis and public transport on August 7. A section of leaders who are spearheading the movement said that the ruling party was fast losing control over the transport unions.
“Transport Minister Madan Mitra seems incapable of handling the situation as his own union is breaking apart and its members are joining us,” Centre of Indian Trade Unions leader Subhash Mukherjee said.
Meanwhile, bus operators declared that they would continue with the proposed bus strike after an internal meeting although they were welcome to discuss their problems with the transport department.
“Despite raising demands several times, the State government has refused to raise bus fares. Fuel prices and maintenance costs have been increasing but bus fares have remained the same,” joint secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate Tapan Banerjee said.
As many as 6,500 buses and mini buses in Kolkata and 42,000 buses and mini buses throughout the State would stay off roads during the three-day strike, he added.
“The transport operators are indulging in extreme hooliganism,” Mr Mitra said, adding that the State government would take legal action against taxi operators.