Majestic witnessed chaotic scenes on Saturday as hundreds of frustrated labourers gathered there desperate to catch a bus to their home towns. A large number of them were accompanied by their families and had children with them.
In the absence of transportation facility, people carrying their belongings walked for miles to reach the bus stand. Some walked from as far as Sarajpur, BTM Layout, Hejjala, and other areas. Many paid thousands of rupees to hitch rides on autorickshaws.
At Majestic, they had to wait for hours before they could board a bus as the KSRTC is allowing only 30 passengers per bus. The corporation is providing passage on routes where there are enough passengers to fill a bus, and people were seen holding placards with names of their destination so that they could find others on the same route.
“I walked almost for 8 km with my family. Somehow we managed to find 30 people who wanted to go to Kalaburagi. We paid for our tickets, but it took two hours for the KSRTC to provide us with a bus,” said Mahesh, a migrant worker. People staying in paying guest accommodation and hostels had also gathered at Majestic assuming that they would be able to get a bus back home.
Hanumantha, a migrant labourer who was at Majestic with his wife and children, said, “The lockdown has been extended and without any job we cannot earn anything. I have not got a bus; we may have to spend the night here. No one is helping us.”
KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, after interacting with stranded migrant workers, lambasted the State government for mismanagement.
“It is pathetic that the State government cannot arrange transportation facilities. Women and children are being forced to spend the night here without any food. No Minister has come to their aid.”
A senior KSRTC official said, “We have managed to operate 120 buses to various destinations. Bus services will be resumed on Sunday morning.” In all, 3,600 people travelled on Saturday from Majestic to various destinations. On Sunday, KSRTC buses will also be operated from the BMTC bus stand from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to ensure social distancing. Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar admitted there were some “lacunae” in the process. “However, everyone was screened before they boarded the bus. From now on, we have decided to segregate people and ensure they go to different bus or railway stations so that there is no crowding,” he said.
Many families were hunkering down at Majestic for the night with the hope that they can board a bus on Sunday.
KSRTC told to charge single fare tariff
After coming under attack for charging exorbitant fares to ferry stranded migrant workers to their respective districts, the State government announced that they will charge single fare.
KSRTC officials maintained that high fare had been charged to discourage workers from leaving the city as well as compensate high operational costs as buses are returning to the city empty.
A majority of the workers stranded in the city are from northern parts of the State.
In a statement, the KSRTC said that both Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi discussed the issue on Saturday. In the meeting, a decision was taken to permit the KSRTC to collect single fare tariff from workers by following social distance. The State government has directed the Labour Department to bear other side fare.