After two days of unending queues, over-crowded buses and long walks, commuters were relieved on Wednesday to see that most auto-rickshaws were back on the roads - 75% of the 1.04 lakh autos in the city.
Though there were stray incidents of some autos being stopped by other auto drivers in the morning, as the day progressed more and more autos started plying.
To placate people, auto unions ran free autos in Goregaon and Borivli, which had been hit badly by the strike.
The strike was a protest against the Andheri regional transport office’s (RTO) drive against tampered meters. RTO officials had caught 97drivers for installing tampered meters and collected a fine of Rs 1.8 lakh.
Wednesday also saw union leader Sharad Rao indirectly admitting his role in the strike. “I spoke to the various auto union leaders. Rao promised they would withdraw the strike and address the drivers’ grievances at the forthcoming meetings. But other leaders said they had no hand in the strike,” Khan said.
Rao, who controls one of the three auto unions in the city with 40,000 auto owners as members, has repeatedly said he has no hand in the strike.
Officials at the RTO and the state transport department strongly believe that so many autos would not have gone off the roads without backing from powerful unions such as Rao’s Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union.
The civic strike, which overlapped with this agitation, was called by Rao’s union, and he had threatened to involve auto and BEST unions in the strike. On Wednesday, Rao said: “I spoke to the minister and said autos are back on the roads. Though people have been pointing fingers at me, I am making it clear that I and my union had no hand in the auto strike. We are against drivers operating tampered meters,” said Rao.