Shimla: The state level strike call by private bus operators left a deep impact in the city today and daily commuters faced many problems in getting around the city.
In response to the strike call in support of a revision of bus fares more than 100 private buses in the city remained off the roads for the day, putting much pressure on the government run HRTC buses.
Office goers, students, patients headed to hospitals, tourists and farmers who use the private buses as load carriers for reaching urban markets to sell their farm produce were a harassed lot.
Unable to make it make it on time for a university lecture, Rahul Rana, a student said, “its rather unfortunate that the government and the bus operators are unable to settle the issue for I had to walk miles to reach the campus but still could not make it on time.”
The private bus operators are demanding that the minimum traveling be raised to Rs.5 from the Rs.2 being presently charged.
They are also demanding an increase of 40 percent of the current tariffs because of the increase diesel prices in the market.
The private operators had served notice on the government to go on strike on 21st August.
Two days ago, transport minister GS Bali had invited the private bus operators for talks and had appealed for calling of the strike.
Having decided not to join the talks, joint coordination committee member for the striking operators, Pankaj Chauhan said, “we have had a number of meetings with government officials but every time our demands have been denied. Now we are not in favor of any meeting.”
There are about 3000 private buses in the state and 2150 are having by the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC).
All the 3000 private buses came to a halt today in support of their demands.
Other than the government buses funded under Jawaharlal Urban Renewal Mission scheme, there are more than 100 private buses in the city deployed to transport more than 40,000/- people daily at peak morning and evening hours in the city.
We did make alternate arrangements for tackling the situation, said RN Batta, MD of HRTC. To save the people from inconveniences, all HRTC buses operated at full capacity with the staff not even taking a break and managed to carry as many passengers as possible,” he added.
The striking operators have debunked the call of GS Bali, the transport minister, for holding talks saying that the government has been not taking the issue seriously.
However, Bali claimed that except in Shimla district the strike was generally a failure.