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Transporters protest, commuters suffer

September 20, 2019 05:01 AM


Transporters protest, commuters suffer
new mv act Office-goers faced difficulties as few cabs operated and auto-rickshaws either refused to ply or fleeced customers

The United Front of Transport Associations, which had called for the strike, termed Thursday’s protest “a success”. Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTOPassengers wait for public transport in Noida on Thursday. Sunil ghosh/HT PHOTO


HT Correspondent


New Delhi : Commuters faced a harrowing time in Delhi on Thursday as most cabs, auto-rickshaws, private buses and gramin sewas remained off the road in response to a strike called by the city’s transporters to protest the amended Motor Vehicles Act, which imposes steep fines for traffic offences.

Scores of office-goers faced difficulties in reaching their workplace as few cabs operated and auto-rickshaws either did not ply or fleeced customers.

Those who use chartered buses from Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurugram to their offices in Delhi had to give their daily ride a miss as buses did not show up.

“Even though metro and state-run buses were running as usual, last-mile connectivity was hit on Thursday. Autos that usually charge Rs 50 from my home at Dwarka Sector 2 to Dwarka Sector 10 metro station, charged me Rs 100 today. After lot of haggling, I finally went for ₹80,” said Tanvi Madan, a professional dancer.

The situation was worse at Delhi’s major transport hubs such as the inter-state bus terminals (ISBTs), railway stations and even the airport.

At the New Delhi Railway Station, the authorities restricted the entry of autos for picking up and dropping passengers at the entrance. People without autos or private cabs had to walk all the way to the station gate or to the main road. The auto and taxi stand right outside the railway station remained locked up.

While a section of autos operated despite the ban, a few others chose to accept rides only for short distances. Delhi has about 95,000 registered autos.

“More than being a part of the strike, we are not plying for safety reasons. There have been reports of manhandling with drivers in parts of the city. Why take a risk,” said Shukhar Shah, an auto driver at the New Delhi station.

Transporters claim success

The United Front of Transport Associations (UFTA), an umbrella body of about 41 transport associations in Delhi-NCR that had called for the strike, termed the protest “a success”.

“At least six lakh autos, Ola and Uber cabs, trucks, Gramin Sewas, and buses among other private transport vehicles joined our token strike on Thursday. We hope the union ministry of road transport will discuss the matter with us on Monday or Tuesday. Thereafter, on Wednesday, we will hold a meeting and decide the future course of action,” said Harish Sabharwal, chairman of UFTA.

Sabharwal said their main demand was setting up proper infrastructure so that traffic offences are caught with scientific evidence. “We are not against the steep penalty. But the government should at least follow the basic court directions, which include deputing an ACP or SDM-rank official for heavy penalties and giving collar mics and body-worn cameras to traffic personnel,” he said.

Harassment alleged

Sporadic instances of manhandling were reported at Anand Vihar ISBT and the Akshardham metro station. In both locations, passengers and drivers in autos and cabs were allegedly pulled out by protesting drivers.

Prakash Lal (52), who arrived at the railway station from Darbhanga in Bihar around 3:30 pm, said he and his family were stranded on the road outside. “It has been one hour since we have been asking autos to take us to Govindpuri. But none agreed. I have been trying to book an Uber but the wait time is 20 minutes more. Besides, there is surge pricing,” he said. Lal said the metro was not an option for him because they had a lot of luggage.

Similar scenes were reported at the airport. Most people complained about long waiting times for cabs and exorbitant rates charged by taxi aggregator services, attributed to the increased demand.

“Usually, app-based cabs charge ₹200-240 from the T3 terminal to my residence at Malviya Nagar. Today, they charged me ₹380,” said Bibhutibhushan Mohanty, a businessman who often travels to Odisha.

While cab aggregator Ola refused to comment, Uber acknowledged that the strike affected its services. “Due to the wider NCR transportation strike, Uber’s services were partially affected today. We shall strive to restore reliable and affordable rides on our platform as soon as possible,” an Uber spokesperson said.

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