Getting an autorickshaw might get difficult on Wednesday, as hundreds of drivers are expected to participate in the strike announced by the Shashank Rao-led auto union.
Mumbai has one lakh three-wheelers, of which at least around 25,000 are affiliated to the union, which is protesting against taxi aggregators such as Ola, Uber and Taxiforsure.
They are also protesting the illegal ferrying of commuters in private vehicles such as buses and the state government’s move to scrap the Hakim committee that had proposed a steep fare hike. Other auto unions and taxis in the city will not join the protest.
Shashank Rao, general secretary, Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, said, “We are firm on our decision to hold the agitation on Wednesday.”
This will be the second agitation in less than a week. On Monday, commuters in Mumbai suffered as the Nitesh Rane-led Swabhiman Taxi Rickshaw union called for
a strike. “The state should invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance (MESMA) Act, 2011, against unions and its leaders. For how long will the state allow commuters to suffer for no fault of theirs,” asked Varsha Raut, member, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).
The state transport department, meanwhile, said the other unions are ready to ply if they get police protection. Private motorists, too, can ply people on Wednesday.
Moreover, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport plan to run additional services.
“We are not expecting much trouble because other unions have promised to cooperate with us. Their request for police protection has been sent to the city police. We are allowing private motorists to ply commuters,” said Sonia Sethi, state transport commissioner.
Thampy Kurien, general secretary, Mumbai’s Rickshawmen’s Union, said, “We are not participating in the agitation, but the police should provide protection to our drivers, so they can drive safely.”