Tired of the repeated strike threats from autorickshaw unions, citizen groups in the eastern and western suburbs have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Ahead of the auto strike on Monday, the advance locality managements (ALMs) in the city are conducting meetings, sending out emails and messages among members who own cars to offer a lift to auto and bus commuters on their way to work.
“We will request private car owners in our locality to offer lifts to commuters and senior citizens waiting for buses on their way to work. Our focus will be on a shuttle service till the railway station. Our emphasis is on morning peak hours between 8am –11am,” said Anandani Thakoor, chairperson of ‘H’ west federation.
From April 15 midnight onwards, Sharad Rao’s Mumbai Autorickshaw Men’s union has announced an indefinite strike. The union is demanding a hike in minimum fare from Rs11 to Rs16 and also Rs2 increase for every additional km.
The ‘H’ west federation includes three railway stations - Bandra, Khar and Santacruz. “We will discuss more measures to reduce commuters’ inconvenience during the strike in our meeting,” added Thakoor.
The Juhu Citizens Welfare Group have termed April 16 as ‘Help a commuter day’. “We are conducting a campaign wherein private car owners are requested to offer lifts to Vile Parle or Santacruz railway station,” said Hansel D’Souza, president of Juhu Citizens Welfare Group of ALMs.
In the eastern suburbs, the Advanced Locality Management and Networking Action Committee (Almanac) will also send out emails and SMSes requesting private car owners to help others. “In the suburbs, the public largely depends on autos to reach the railway station or the highway. It is time to teach the union a lesson by helping each other,” said Rajkumar Sharma, president of Almanac.
Meanwhile, consumer groups demanded action against the union. “If the union leaders are threatening strike the chief minister or home minister should take action against them. There are other means to resolve the fare hike issue,” said Shirish Deshpande, Chairperson Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
VN More, transport commissioner said, “The union has informed us about the indefinite agitation through a letter, but have not mentioned anything about a strike.”