Private bus operators take on challan-wielding RTO officials; lay siege to Margao bus stand
Vehicles parked at entry and exit points halt movements for over 2 hrs
Story: The Goan Network | 14th September 2017, 03:12 Hrs
MARGAO: Private bus operators resorted to a flash strike on Wednesday morning, blocking the entry and exit points of the KTC bus stand, Margao in protest against the challans issued by RTO officials to the private buses since morning.
The bus owners literally laid a siege to the bus stand, for well over two hours, bringing to a halt movement of all buses, including the KTC buses to and fro the bus stand, leaving hundreds of passengers heading to Panjim and other destinations stranded. As the entry and exit points of the bus stand stood blocked by the private buses for well over an hour, the KTC made a way for its buses to leave the bus stand via the rickshaw stand, bringing some relief to the harrowed passengers. Office goers to the capital city were the worst sufferers as they stood in a serpentine queue at the bus stand, waiting for the KTC buses to leave for their destination. Many passengers heading down south were seen stranded at the Communidade building
It was only at around 12.30 pm that the bus operators lifted the siege at the bus stand after a closed door meeting with RTO and Police officials and after assurances from the transport officials that they will look sympathetically into the challans issued to the operators.
Earlier in the day, the private bus operators decided to resort to a flash strike after a team of RTO officials descended near the KTC bus stand and went on a challaning spree. Angered by the way the RTO officials went about its job, as the officials issued around 40 challans on a host of grounds, the private bus operators went on a flash strike by parking their vehicles at the entry and exit points and all across the bus stand.
They accused the RTO officials for issuing the challans to comply with the Road Transport department's directions to challan as many buses as possible during the road safety week. They questioned the RTO for not challlaning the KTC buses despite frequent breakdowns due to a host of mechanical failures. "We are running this business despite steep rise in diesel and other items. The bus fares have not been revised till date. Despite this, we are being challaned by the RTO. When we do not even do business of Rs 1000 a day, how can we even think of paying the hefty challans", asked bus owners president Manuel Rodrigues. A couple of bus operators openly charged the RTO officials for taking bribes from them at the time of passing of vehicles and for other work.
It was around 12.30 pm when Margao PI C L Patil along with a strong posse policemen entered the bus stand that the private buses moved out, threatening to again come on the road if the harassment does not stop forthwith.
A routine exercise,
says RTO Officer
Assistant Transport Director, Margao, Prakash Kholkar termed the RTO drive against the bus operators as a routine exercise, not intended to either harass the operators or to achieve a target of fine collection set by the Transport department.
Kholkar said that regular drives are being conducted by the officers based on complaints from the travelling public that tickets are not being issued by the conductors, that the conductors misbehave with the commuters and that they do not wear the uniforms. "We receive complaints from passengers e-mail stating that the buses carry excess passengers and are usually overcrowded", he said.
He did not agree to the contention of the private operators that the RTO mete out harassment to them while leaving the KTC buses scot free.
Asked what has transpired between him and the agitating private bus operators, he said the bus operators will get back to him with a written representation, which will be forwarded to the Transport Director of necessary action.
BEHIND WHEELS OF FURY
* Private bus operators accused the RTO officials for issuing the challans to comply with the Road Transport department's directions to challan as many buses as possible during the road safety week * They questioned the RTO for not challlaning the KTC buses despite frequent breakdowns due to a host of mechanical failures
* When we do not even do business of Rs 1000 a day, how can we even think of paying the hefty challans, asked bus owners
* A couple of bus operators openly charged the RTO officials for taking bribes from them at the time of passing of vehicles
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