ANDHRA PRADESH

RTC takes hard stand on striking staff

ENDLESS WOES: A woman taking help to get into a lorry near Kanaka Durgamma Varadhi in Vijayawada on Thursday. Photo: Raju V.

ENDLESS WOES: A woman taking help to get into a lorry near Kanaka Durgamma Varadhi in Vijayawada on Thursday. Photo: Raju V.  

Notice has been issued to 88 contract drivers

Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADAGUNTURONGOLE: With the RTC officials operating only 12 per cent of services on Tuesday, people were forced to continue looking for alternative modes of transportation on the second day of RTC employees' strike.

Autorickshaw drivers and those of private buses took advantage of the situation and collected exorbitant amounts -- two to three times the usual charge -- from the travelling public. The RTC took a hard stand on the striking employees. At the instructions of the management, officials of the Vijayawada region issued notice to 88 out of 90 contract drivers threatening to terminate their services. They were asked to resume duty by Tuesday evening or else face removal from duty. Two contract drivers had resumed duty at the Gannavaram depot.

On the second day of strike, the RTC was able to run 157 out of the 1,285 buses in the Vijayawada region. These included 119 hired buses and 38 RTC's own buses.

The number of services was increased from 24 to 51 buses in the city limits. Only 24 hired buses plied on city roads on Monday. In addition to these services, RTC's 27 buses came on to the roads. Three additional routes being covered: Kaleswararao market to Kankipadu; Kaleswara Rao Market to Gannavaram via the railway station, and Kaleswararao market to Kanur.

In response to a call for private drivers, 35 persons turned up at RTC Regional Manager's office and their services were being utilised. A small test was being conducted for them before allowing them to drive buses.

They should have a minimum of three years of driving experience on heavy vehicles. The earlier rule of five years experience had been relaxed due to non-availability of drivers with that experience.

The Regional Manager, Malla Sitapati, said there were to 30 to 40 enquiries about their eligibility to work as drivers and going by this, some more private drivers would be available by Tuesday evening. All those having three years of experience on heavy vehicle driving were asked to contact the RM's office located at Pandit Nehru Bus Station.

Buses were not touching PNBS considering the volatile situation in view of the employees' strike. All buses going towards Machilipatnam would have a boarding point at Machilipatnam/Gudivada non-stop point at Benz circle. Buses going towards Nuzvid would start at the Challapalli bungalow point. The services between the city and Guntur were being totally operated by the Guntur region for now. The Road Transport Authority was making efforts to provide some private drivers to RTC by Tuesday evening.

Petrol sales up

VIJAYAWADAGUNTURONGOLE: The sale of petrol has increased by 10 per cent in most of the outlets in Guntur district as the agitation by the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation employees entered the second day on Tuesday.

"We saw an increase in the number of cars and jeeps which came for fuel today and the sales were higher by at least 10 per cent," said Muralikrishna, manager of a Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited outlet near Municipal Corporation Office.

Passengers continued to suffer though the RTC authorities tried hard to run services to various destinations. Autorickshaws ruled the roost as the drivers saw an opportunity to make some quick buck.

They were seen everywhere and caused traffic jams at many places.

One hundred and fifty-eight buses were operated to various destinations, according to the RTC Guntur Regional Manager, G. Jaya Rao. Bus services were run from Guntur on the main routes like Vijayawada, Narsaraopet, Chilakaluripet and Bapatla, apart from services to smaller towns like Thulluru, Krosur and Vangipuram, he said.

The authorities utilised the services of 40 home guards, 30 drivers recommended by the Regional Transport Authorities and 40 conductors who were appointed on a temporary basis, said Mr. Rao.

The Vijayawada Division of South Central Railway ran special trains to Guntur and other places and there were long queues at the railway ticket booking counters. The Railways also added extra coaches to various trains to manage the heavy rush.

Special trains

VIJAYAWADAGUNTURONGOLE: The RTC officials could run 227 buses in Prakasam district on the second day of strike today even as the railways agreed to run 10 special trains on the Vijayawada-Bitragunta section to meet the transport needs of the people.

The District Collector, B. Udaya Lakshmi, reviewed the situation at a meeting of transport and RTC officials here today. She said that the RTC could run 156 buses from its own fleet besides 71 hired buses today. It has recruited 120 private drivers and engaged the services of 120 home guards as conductors to maintain the services.

She said that autorickshaws, lorries and other private vehicles have been arranged to carry the passengers from one place to another.

Steps have been taken to ensure their safety. Also, the private vehicles had agreed to charge less than the RTC. She thanked the railways for introducing 10 special trains with stops at all the stations.

The railways have agreed to run the following special trains.

A special train will leave Ongole at 19.30 hrs and reach Chirala at 20.40 hrs.

The train on its return journey will leave Chirala at 21.00 hours and reach Ongole at 22.00 hrs. Another train will leave Gudur at 9.30 hrs and reach Ongole at 13.00 hrs.

In the return journey, it will leave Ongole at 13.30 hrs and reach Gudur at 16.50 hrs.

Another train will leave Gudur at 11.10 hrs and reach Bitragunta at 13.00 hrs.

In the return journey, it will leave Bitragunta at 14.00 hrs and reach Gudur at 16.45 hrs.

A special train will leave Vijayawada at 21.00 hrs and reach Guntur at 22.00 hrs.

It will leave Guntur at 23.00 hr and reach Vijayawada at 00.00 hrs.

A special train will leave Vijayawada at 9.30 hrs and reach Chirala at 12.30 hrs. In the return journey, it will leave Chirala at 13.00 hrs and reach Vijayawada at 16.00 hrs.

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