Jammu- On strike against the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s order capping the seating capacity in public transport at 50 per cent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of transporters staged a protest here on Wednesday, demanding a hike in passenger fare for the survival of the “economically-hit” industry.
Led by T S Wazir, chairman of the All J-K Transport Welfare Association, the protesters assembled on the main road outside the General Bus Stand in the city. They set ablaze a tyre and chanted slogans in support of their demand.
Private transporters went on an indefinite strike on April 21 to protest the administration’s order capping the seating capacity at 50 per cent in passenger vehicles. They say it is not feasible for them to ply their vehicles at 50 per cent capacity as the fuel prices are skyrocketing and they have already suffered huge losses since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“It is very unfortunate that the administration of a union territory is behaving like its an autocracy. On the third day of our strike, we held a meeting with the transport commissioner and submitted our proposal to the government but no decision has been taken as yet,” Wazir told reporters.
He said they were forced to take to the streets because the administration is not paying heed to their demands.
“We suffered huge economic losses last year on account of the pandemic and the latest unilateral decision of the administration, without enhancing the passenger fare, is bound to hit the industry badly,” he said.
Wazir appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look into the issue on humanitarian grounds and “save the people associated with the industry from starvation”.
Last year, he said, the administration had enhanced the fare by 30 per cent after capping the seating capacity in public transport at 60 to 70 per cent.
“We are ready for talks but let the administration come forward. It is not viable for us to ply our vehicles at 50 per cent seating capacity,” he said and regretted the inconvenience being faced by the public due to the non-availability of transport.
The protesters threatened to intensify their agitation in the coming days if the administration doesn’t reconsider its decision.
“We are living in a democracy and not under autocratic rule. If you do not hear the voice of the public, they will come on the roads. We will intensify the agitation in the coming days and park our vehicles on main roads,” Wazir said.
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