Receiving assurance from the Maharashtra government that it will enact its own law related to road transport and safety in the monsoon session, transporters in the state withdrew their proposed strike on Thursday.
The state government’s intervention gave commuters access to public transport in the city, despite the nationwide call for a strike by transporter bodies. Thankfully for Mumbaiites, BEST buses, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers did not participate in the strike.
At a meeting with them on Thursday, transport minister Diwakar Raote assured union leaders that the stricter punishments proposed in the Road Transport and Safety Bill 2015 drawn up by the Union government will not affect transporters in the state. Raote said the state will introduce its own law and Maharashtra will be the first state in the country to enact its own transport law. “We will introduce a bill to bring discipline among transporters and drivers and ensure safety on the roads. While doing so, we will take transporters and other stakeholders into confidence and ensure no injustice is done to any of them. However, the interest of the common man will be of utmost importance,” Raote said.
Transporters told Raote many of the provisions in the Act proposed by the Centre were unreasonable. Meanwhile, the nationwide transport strike didn’t affect the city’s public transport facilities. BEST operated more than 3,500 buses, which amounts to 90% of its daily services. The BEST usually operates 3,806 buses every day, but due to stone-pelting on eight bus routes early in the morning, a few services were curtailed. By evening, a majority of buses were running as per schedule.
“Except for a few services in the morning, all our services were running as per schedule. Few stone pelting incidents were reported between 3am and 5am, but after that, services were normal,” said Hanumant Gophane, public relations officer, BEST. While buses on routes 511, 27, 320, 37 and 375 were affected, no injury was reported.
Rickshaw and taxi unions said operations had been smooth. “Though we support the cause of the agitation, we didn’t participate in it and all auto services were running normally,” said Thampy Kurian, general secretary, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s union.