55,000 taxis, 150,000 auto-rickshaws strike work, bring Mumbai to a standstill

October 16th, 2008 - 9:15 pm ICT by ANI  

Mumbai, Oct.16 (ANI): Around 55,000 taxis and 150,000 auto-rickshaws remained off Mumbai roads on Thursday to protest against a Maharashtra Government move to phase out vehicles and auto-rickshaws that were 25 years or more old.
“The strike has received complete support across the city and approximately 55,000 taxis and 1.5 lakh rickshaws stayed off the roads today,” said Sharad Rao, the leader of Mumbai Autorickshaw-Taximen’’s Union.
“The Union gave the strike call to protest the Maharashtra Government’’s decision to phase out taxis which are over 25-years old, besides other issues,” he said.
Commuters traveling by taxis in Mumbai, India’’s financial capital, faced a harrowing time getting to their homes and places of work.Alternate modes of transport were by and large unavailable.
Vyas Prasad Gupta, a victim of the strike, said he was forced to walk. He appealed to the State Government to consider the demands of the taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers and ease the plight of all commuters living in the city.
Over 100,000 drivers participated in the strike. Their demands included a reduction of toll rate, allowing taxis more than 25 years old to ply on roads, a hike in fares,exemptions from paying toll tax and professional tax for taxi drivers, abolition of fleet taxis, providing facilities for taxi drivers at city airports and discarding the mandatory use of electronic meters.
“Actually I have come from Mazgaon. I was forced to walk all the way. It took me half an hour to walk. Due to taxi strike, the buses are very crowded. There are only two buses on my route. Taking into consideration continuous price rise, the Government should try to meet their demands,”said Tushar Gandhi, another harassed commuter.
Members of Mumbai Autorickshaw-Taximen’’s Union said the phasing out of the existing taxis was wrong since the emission norms prescribed were being met by the vehicles.
Despite the Maharashtra Government forming a committee to look into the issue and other matters like introduction of electronic meters in autorickshaws, no solution has been worked out yet, Rao said.
The striking union members were to meet Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil, Transport Commissioner and other authorities regarding their resolutions and demands.
There are between 400,000 and 500,000 in Mumbai who are dependant on taxis and auto-rickshaws. (ANI)

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