The transport situation is expected to partially ease from Thursday as the two striking bus unions decided to defer their agitation by 10 days. The taxi associations, however, decided to go ahead with their 72-hour strike. The cab bodies decided to go ahead with their programme despite transport minister Madan Mitra more sympathetic stance to their demands.
The bus strike deferral brought respite for commuters, as 45,000 private buses in and around the city will ply on Thursday. Considering the bandh on Thursday, fewer buses are expected to run, but from Friday they will be on the roads.
“I have asked the cab associations and bus associations to withdraw their strike. I have sought 10 days time to reconsider their decision of a fare hike. Bus owners have already agreed and we are going to oppose Thursday’s strike,” said Mitra.
The state government has urged Trinamool Congress affiliated unions to ply buses, autos and taxis on Thursday. If everything works out, then commuters can avail the services of 45,000 public buses, 4,000 minibuses and 20,000 autos on Thursday. However, more than 30,000 out of the 35,000 taxis will stay off the roads.
“There will be a crisis, as taxis will not be available on Thursday. We are going to run extra government buses. A majority of these buses will ferry passengers to and from Howrah and Sealdah stations and the airport,” Mitra added.
The transport minister has termed the strike called by Left Front and taxi operators a ‘rubbish’ decision. He said cab owners could have easily postponed their strikes as the government had promised to reconsider their decision. On the other hand, he slammed Left Front’s decision stating it is useless to lodge any protest in West Bengal since the state government is no longer an ally of UPA.
“I do not know what happened in the meeting between bus operators and transport minister. We have not received any assurance from the minister yet. So questions of withdrawing the strike do not arise,” said Tarak Nath Bari from the Calcutta Taxi Association.