35,000 private buses off roads for a day in Kerala

October 30th, 2008 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kozhikode, Oct 30 (IANS) Around 35,000 private buses kept off the roads in Kerala Thursday affecting normal life as operators protested the government’s decision to allow only state-owned buses on certain routes.The government told the operators in September that their permits to ply on 31 notified routes will be renwed only if state-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was not interested in operating on these routes.

These routes were notified in 1964 and KSRTC operated on many of them.

According to the operators, the KSRTC found itself not equal to the task and, therefore, the government had to bring in private operators on these routes.

The one-day strike against the decision was organised by the All-Kerala Bus Operators’ Coordination Committee, a confederation of three major bus operators’ organisations.

“The strike is a total success as around 35,000 private buses are off the road, except for a few buses in Thiruvananthapuram (the state capital),” said A.K. Abdulla, the chairman of the committee.

Though the KSRTC operated more services to mitigate the hardships of the travelers, they were found to be insufficient. People were seen clambering up taxis and stage carriers which cared to lift passengers from bus stops for a little extra fare.

In Kozhikode and Kochi cities, more vehicles than usual were seen on the road as personal vehicles were out in larger numbers.

Kochi even experienced frequent traffic congestion because of extra vehicles on its roads. Offices and educational institutions registered thinner attendance.

Abdulla said the government’s move will affect around 20,000 private buses.

The private bus industry provides direct and indirect employment to around 500,000 people in the state and carries approximately three million passengers a day.

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