Private bus operators in Kerala have launched an indefinite strike from Thursday (March 24). They are demanding increase in ticket fare in the wake of rising fuel prices. Various private bus operators’ unions have supported the strike. They claim that the state government, even after assuring them that ticket prices will be increased, has delayed the decision. A number of users on social media are posting photos of the strike, showing non-availability of buses and how it is affecting the lives of daily commuters.
The president of Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation Sathyan told news agency PTI that a notice regarding the proposed strike was given to the government more than two weeks ago but no discussion has taken place so far on the issue.
However, Transport Minister Anton Raju told Kerala Kaumudi that ticket price will be increased, whether the bus operators go on strike or not.
What are the demands of private bus operators?
The bus operators say that prices of petrol and diesel have increased manifold in the last few months but the ticket price in the state has remained unchanged.
They say it is impossible to run operations in such a scenario. They sent a notice to the state government, as confirmed by minister Raju earlier this month.
The bus operators have demanded a hike in the fare for the public and also in the concessional fare for students.
They have sought an increase in the per kilometre charge from the present 90 paise to Rs 1.10 every km and waiver of road tax for the COVID-19 period.
The government’s stand
The Kerala government has in principle agreed to the demands of private bus operators, but hasn’t yet finalised the new fare rates and issued any order.
The bus operators have been flagging the issue to the government for months. They postponed protests earlier based on the assurances from the state government.
How the strike has affected common people
Users have been posting photos and updates about the bus strike, which they say has hit daily commuters.
— Muhammed Ansif P (@p_ansif) March 24, 2022
Since the private bus operators joining the strike collectively own 7,000 buses, roads are empty and people have to resort to alternate mode of transport.