Cab Associations of Assam to Stage Road Blockage at All Entry Points to State on October 29
About ten different commercial vehicle associations of Assam have come together to protest against the neighbouring northeastern states’ rule of restricting entry of cabs from Assam citing the COVID-19 situation.
The taxi associations are to undertake a ‘road blockage’ program across the state’s border on 29th October. The protests will be staged at every entry gate of Assam, preventing vehicles from other northeastern states to enter the state.
Anger has erupted amongst the commercial drivers as well as the taxi associations as the neighbouring states of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and others have barred vehicles from Assam to enter their respective states. All vehicles doing so are to mandatorily undergo COVID-19 screening at the entry points on payment of a fee in lieu of the results. They are henceforth allowed entry only when found negative. For Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, the fee has been set at Rs 500 for drivers. For some other states, the screening fees of passengers are reportedly higher.
Reportedly, while the rule is applicable for everyone, the taxi drivers who take passengers on a regular basis are also required to undergo the test every time they cross the border. Allegedly, the administrations of the other states do not acknowledge the reports provided by the state of Assam, regardless of any time gap and negative result.
However, Assam has opened its gates for all vehicles and no such screening is done anywhere upon entry.
Talking to G Plus, president of All Assam Cab Operator Association (AACOA) said, “Firstly, it hurts our sentiments. We understand the situation but it feels like Assam is the only state spreading the coronavirus to other states as we are the ones being restricted to enter. Secondly, we would like to ask, if all other states are doing mandatory screening and collecting fees, shouldn’t our government do the same? Who can ensure that the virus is not coming from there?”
“The administrations of the neighbouring states are harassing us in the name of medical check-up as drivers have to do it every single time. Even if the same person visits the very next day, he will have to undergo screening. And the waiting time is way too long. For instance, when we go to Shillong, the taxis are halted at Byrnihat. It takes six to eight hours to get the report. Customers are already low and this rule has added to our losses,” he added.
The different cab associations of Assam had earlier met with the transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on 6th October at the Assam Administrative Staff College to raise the issue in presence of the transport commissioner and other officials.
Although immediate respite of some kind was ensured during the meeting, the same has not been done till date. As such, the commercial passenger vehicle associations of Assam have come together to stage a protest and road blockage on 29th October, demanding a ban on entry of commercial passenger vehicles if the state government fails to provide respite by tomorrow.
“Our members have already gone to the different entry gates of Assam. A meeting is being held at Dudhnoi, Goalpara and the date has been confirmed. We will be blocking every entry point from Byrnihat to the Tura gate at Goalpara, Barak valley, and others as well.
The taxi associations are also protesting against the cutting-off of incentives by the Ola and Uber operators that have immensely hampered the earnings of the taxi driver. A mere 25 to 35 percent incentive is presently provided compared to the earlier 200 percent on every fare.
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