The bus drivers and owners syndicate protesting in Nagerjala bus stand demanding compensation from government Credit: EastMojo Image

Agartala: As angry passengers blocked roads on Tuesday, the state government capitulated to the ongoing strike by the Bus Owners’ Syndicate, allowing not only bus services, but all vehicles within the state, to resume full seating capacity.

Demanding compensation from the government to cover losses incurred while following COVID-19 protocols, the bus operators in Tripura have been on strike since Saturday.

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Bringing an end to the impasse, Transport minister Pranajit Singha Roy told reporters that the bus operators have presented the government with a memorandum, demanding increase in fares to cover the losses incurred by them in the last six months.

“We have concluded that bus services would be allowed to operate with full seating capacity. The bus owners cannot charge extra from the passengers. But it would be mandatory for passengers to wear face masks”, Singha Roy said.

Meanwhile, the bus operators’ strike spilled onto the roads near Nagerjala Motor Stand on Tuesday, where irate passengers could be seen protesting the government, demanding immediate resumption of bus services.

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The transport minister has also warned bus operators against any attempt to charge increased bus fares from passengers. “If bus operators charge any increased fares from passengers, they will face consequences and punitive action will be initiated against violators”, Singha Roy said.

The minister clarified that the bus operators’ demand for fare hike would need time to be studied by an expert committee, which will assess the market situation and submit its recommendations accordingly.

“The fares can be increased only if the Cabinet clears such a proposal,” he said.

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As with buses, the government will allow other private vehicles to resume full capacity seating, making masks mandatory for all passengers.

“It should be ensured that the passengers, drivers and other assisting staff of the vehicles wear face masks throughout journey. The vehicle owners shall also ensure to keep sanitizers inside the vehicles,” read a letter issued by the Tripura government.

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