‘Mafia tag’ by politicians hurting our business, say bus operators
Private bus operators on Saturday said political parties had given them the all-encompassing ‘mafia’ tag to further their political aspirations.
At a time when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is promising to end the reign of the notorious ‘transport mafia’ in the state, private bus operators on Saturday said political parties had given them the all-encompassing ‘mafia’ tag to further their political aspirations.
Claiming that the ‘mafia’ label was hurting their businesses, around 15 operators, including Malwa Bus Service, Jujhar Transport, Sheikhupura Bus Service, Rajguru Bus Service, Pritam Bus Service, Kartar Bus Service, and Ambala Bus Syndicate, called a press conference to clarify that “of the 2,200 private buses run in the state, only 329 are owned by the politically influential Badal family.”
The operators said, “We have completed all formalities, and pay our taxes. However, the government is imposing fresh conditions on us, which is causing loses to the private sector.”
“Around 50,000 people are involved in the sector and private bus operators pay crores in taxes. However, we are all being called mafia by political parties training their guns at the Badal family. In the process, the reputation of the entire sector has suffered. Our credibility has been hit, and we are unable to purchase material on credit from the market,” said Shubhkarman Singh Brar, who owns Malwa Bus (Moga).
“Some operators failed to pay their taxes during the pandemic ,and now the government is threatening to strike their name off the time table. There is no provision in the Motor Vehicle Act, which suggests that the name of an operator can be struck off the time table, if he failed to clear government dues. However, private operators are being harassed for allegedly running a mafia in the state,” added Brar.
The operators alleged that government-run buses are given more halt periods at the bus stand. “We recently met transport minister Laljit Singh Bhullar, and hope that the government will pay heed to the problems being faced by the sector. We have demanded revision in fare, and reduction in Motor Vehicle Tax,” they said.
The proprietor of Sheikhupura Bus service, Iqbal Singh, said,” The government should carry out inspections and take strict action against violators, but the entire sector should not be harassed.”
‘Announce free travel for women in pvt buses too’
Ruing losses, the operators demanded that the government announce free travel for women in private buses and compensate private operators as is done for Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) buses.
“Our occupancy has dropped by around 50% after the government introduced free travel for women in government-run buses,” they added.