The apex body of transporters in Assam has called an indefinite strike across the state from 6 am on Monday over alleged government inaction to address their issue of mounting losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA) on Sunday said all passenger vehicles ranging from autorickshaws to buses will remain off the roads.
The government has requested AAMTA to withdraw the strike and invited its leaders for a meeting on October 6, but the organisation said its agitation will continue until anything concrete comes from the administration
AAMTA secretary general Pradip Das said, “Members of the organisation have met the transport minister and officials several times in the last few months, urging support to the sector but nothing has been done yet.”
“Every time, the government gives us assurances. We have submitted several memorandums and met with many officials. But no step has been initiated to address our heavy losses,” he added.
The AAMTA had suggested a waiver of road taxes for one year and withdrawal of fines imposed for non-repayment of loans taken by the owners of passenger vehicles. Das alleged payments of several crores of rupees for plying buses requisitioned by the government to ferry stranded people during the lockdown period are pending with the administration.
“We are operating with only 50% capacity as per the COVID-19 protocol. Hence, we urged the government to allow us to slightly raise the fares till the situation normalises, but they turned down our plea,” Das said.
The transport department, on the contrary, has imposed fines in the range of Rs 2,000-20,000 if any vehicle was found carrying even one passenger more than the stipulated 50% capacity, he said. “During this pandemic period, two new toll gates have started functioning at Changsari and Raha, the two entry points to Guwahati city.
There is no proper infrastructure at the facilities but those running them are charging exorbitant rates for commercial vehicles. If the situation faced by the transporters is not addressed urgently, many will not be able to sustain themselves in the coming months,” the AAMTA office-bearer said.
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