Commuters Face Brunt as 600 Buses go Off Road following Strike
Over 600 city buses were taken off the roads in Guwahati from Tuesday, March 5 onwards due to a strike called by several transporters' associations. The strike was called to protest against the new guidelines for city buses introduced by the District Transport Officer & Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Kamrup.
With city buses going off the streets in the city, the bus commuters faced severe problems due to scarcity of buses. Buses being the primary means of transport for a large section of the people, this scarcity widely affected the lives of commuters who rely on this mode of transportation on a daily basis.
“The commuters are facing a lot of problems because of this strike by private bus owners as there were no buses plying on the roads. In the Beltola area, a number of buses were parked on the street and were not in use. I also saw two buses pass me by that had only one or two people and the door of the bus was closed as there was no handyman,” said a city commuter who uses city buses to travel frequently.
Continuing their bus strike, private city buses went off the roads on Wednesday, March 6 as well after the transport department seized several buses for not following the recently introduced guidelines. On the subsequent days too, very few ASTC buses were operating in the city.
On March 4, the officials of the Kamrup Metro transport department seized as many as 11 city buses for not following the recently introduced norms. Cases were registered against more than 17 city buses while around Rs 10,000 was collected as penalties during the drive conducted at Beltola Chariali. The move was influenced by the fact that the city buses were found violating the freshly issued directives, informed an official from the Regional Transport Authority.
There are a total of close to 800 city buses in Guwahati, of which 600 are part of the All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA) that called the strike. While the remaining 200 buses did ply in some parts of the city, the overall the bus services remained paralysed.
Speaking to G Plus about the reason behind the strike, general secretary of AAMTA Pradip Das said, “The district transport department formulated the new rules on February 22, but we didn’t receive any notice. Later, when we came to know about the new rules, we met with officials from the transport department on February 28 and sought some time to go through the rules. But the department suddenly carried out the drive on Monday and seized some of our buses.”
“The government is being so adamant about these new guidelines while the bus owners and drivers are protesting against them. But in this struggle, the commuters are the ultimate losers. Even today, I took an Ola to work and I can do that, but what about the people who can’t? For them, it becomes so much more difficult. If this strike continues, it will be really problematic,” a corporate employee told G Plus on Tuesday.
New guidelines introduced for Guwahati city buses
The District Transport Officer and Regional Transport Authority Kamrup issued new guidelines for city buses with the aim to ensure hassle-free movement and de-congest the traffic to a certain extent. The following guidelines had been established:
• No handymen in city buses
• Maximum 2 minutes waiting time at each stop
• Bus drivers will have to paste their photos on the front of the vehicle, which has to be visible from a distance of at least 50 meters.
As per the new rules formulated by the transport department, city buses will have to display the photograph of the driver bearing the countersignature and seal of the office-bearer of the respective association on the left of the windshield, which must also be visible from 22 metres away.
Additionally, new routes were introduced and existing ones were extended to cover the entire city and its surrounding areas.
While a majority of citizens welcomed the move and extended support to the new guidelines, some opined that the department should focus on training and education of the bus drivers as trained and law abiding drivers can help ease the traffic movement. They believed that making the rules is one thing and getting these implemented is a tall order to ask for.