Tamil Nadu: Lakhs on roads as bus strike enters second day

Good Samaritans offered help to stranded people by offering them rides in their vehicles, displaying their large-heartedness

Chennai: Lakhs of commuters across Tamil Nadu had a harrowing experience travelling on Friday as majority of employees of transport department continued with their strike for the second day on Friday.

Passengers travelling from Chennai to outstation and vice-versa were the most affected as private bus operators were not able to match up with the number of services by the government-owned transport corporation.

Overcharging by private operators also forced people to stay indoors cancelling all their travel plans. Though the government attempted at some damage control by “recruiting” drivers and conductors and asking pressing in private and school buses into services, passenger’ woes did not end.

As the strike continued affecting lakhs of people, the Opposition parties, besides actor Kamal Haasan, urged the government to end the stalemate by holding talks with trade unions. However, the government stood its ground saying it cannot meet the demands of the striking employees at one go.

Cashing in on the unfortunate situation, cab aggregators and auto drivers charged exorbitant amount from commuters besides making them wait for more time than usual. Office-goers and students bore the brunt of the strike as nearly 90 per cent of the buses went off the roads.

Good Samaritans offe-red help to stranded people by offering them rides in their vehicles, displaying their large-heartedness. Social media was abuzz with messages asking people with two-wheeler and cars to offer ride to those in needy as buses were off roads.

Transport union sources said only 5 per cent of the buses went out in every depot and majority of the employees were indoors.

“The strike is on successfully. The government is using ruling party members (drivers) to run the buses. As many as 95 per cent of workers have not reported for duty.... not even 10 per cent of the buses are plying,” Sounderrajan said.

Though the ruling AIADMK-backed Anna Thozhirsanga Peravai said its members had reported to duty, ground reports said a large number of vehicles were off the road in different parts of the state.

Ten trade unions had announced launching the indefinite strike yesterday after their talks with the government over a key demand on a “factor” determining wage structure failed. The unions wanted the ‘factor’ to be fixed at 2.57 while the government insisted that it be 2.44. The unions and government also did not come to a consensus on the minimum basic pay structure.

Ever-bustling CMBT deserted
With transport unions’ strike on Friday forcing government buses off roads, the ever-busy Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal (CMBT) at Koyambedu looked like a private bus stand with the Tamil Nadu government bringing private operators to compensate for the loss. The bustling CMBT, vibrant with full of activity on any given day, wore a deserted look on Friday as many passengers opted to stay at home by cancelling their travel plans. Although the government recruited temporary drivers and conductors on daily wages, more than 80 per cent of long-distance buses were parked in bus bays.

Some private omnibuses, allowed to ply from CMBT instead of the omnibus stand owing to strike, fleeced the stranded passengers with exorbitant charges. When our Deccan Chronicle reporter, posing as a passenger, enquired a private omnibus driver, he said that the ticket would cost Rs 500 to Rs 600 for Salem. At state-owned SETC buses, Chennai to Salem ticket would cost not more than Rs 300.

“Some private buses charged more than Rs 1,000 for Salem on early hours of the Friday and the ticket prices came down due to decreasing footfall,” alleged a shop owner in CMBT.


Commuters who reached Chennai from other districts somehow also were left waiting for MTC services, as local MTC buses were few and far between. “I have come from Vellore by a private bus. My husband and I have to go to NSK Nagar. But we cannot find a bus for over an hour,” said S. Kanagasundari, a senior citizen.

N. Suresh, an auto-rickshaw driver at CMBT, said that he had a difficult time in finding rides. “Commuters from other districts usually hire autos. Due to strike, we cannot get rides,” Suresh said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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