Contract carriage operators in Kozhikode struggle to overcome pandemic-induced crisis

The delay in reopening the tourism sector following the pandemic outbreak has paralysed the business of hundreds of contract carriage operators in Kozhikode district. For over two years, they have been finding it hard to mobilise funds for vehicle maintenance, tax liabilities and repayment of bank loans.

Operators in the sector say they are even finding it hard to sell off their vehicles. Owners of big luxury buses and other customised four-wheel vehicles are equally in crisis with the falling number of booking and the looming uncertainty, they add.

“In the past, school excursions were an assured source of income for many local entrepreneurs in the sector. Since the pandemic outbreak, it was given up by school managements. Same is the case with all local tours usually organised by families, organisations and residents’ forums,” says K. Babu, a tourist bus operator in the city. He says the cancellation of pilgrimages is another major blow to the sector.

One of the main complaints raised by operators in the sector was the “poor consideration” by the State government. Like private bus operators, they also had demanded the waiver of luxury tax and vehicle tax. Moratorium for vehicle loans was the another demand as many were in debt after the purchase of new vehicles.

“The upcoming One India One Tax norm for tourist vehicles is the only hope for entrepreneurs in the State. Now, we are forced to pay separate tax for each State during the service, which doubles the financial burden during this crisis time,” says Abdul Nazar, district president of the Kerala Luxury Bus Operators and Owners Association.

According to Mr. Nazar, only two out of the 30 contract carriage buses are now operating daily services to Bengaluru from Kozhikode. “Only very few passengers book bus tickets for inter-State travel now. In the whole northern Kerala region, fewer than 10 contract carriages now operate daily service to cities in Karnataka,” he adds.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 1:10:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/contract-carriage-operators-struggle-to-overcome-crisis/article35615959.ece

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