By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Nov 2: People who commute to work, school or college by city buses or trekkers were left stranded today afternoon when city buses and trekkers suddenly stopped plying in Guwahati. Following heated arguments and scuffle between passengers and bus conductors in different parts of the city over the hike in bus fare, city bus and trekker owners suddenly took the decision to call a strike.
It may be mentioned that the All Guwahati Motor Transport Association hiked the minimum bus fare to Rs 5 and the minimum trekker fare to Rs 8. This hike was brought into effect yesterday. Kamrup District Transport Officer and Regional Transport Association (RTA) secretary Kushal Hazarika said yesterday that the district administration had not taken any decision on the hike in bus and trekker fares and that the decision would only be taken in a meeting to be held on November 16.
Following Hazarika’s statement to some local news channels, many commuters refused to pay as per the new fare rate and this resulted in a scuffle between commuters and bus conductors, first in Narengi and then in other parts of the city like Ganeshguri and Maligaon. Later in the afternoon, city buses and trekkers stopped plying on the road and people were left stranded. Grabbing this opportunity, autorickshaws started charging exorbitant rates from the helpless commuters.
All Guwahati Motor Transport Association general secretary Pradip Das said, “A cabinet decision on hike in bus and trekker fares was taken on October 15 and on October 18 a circular in this regard was issued. Within one week the RTA should have taken a decision on the exact fare hike but the RTA did not take any decision. Hence, we gave prior notice that we will hike our fares from November 1 and we have acted accordingly. Now if the RTA will hold a meeting in this regard on November 16, we will continue our strike till then.”
Kushal Hazarika said today, “They cannot do this. A decision on fare hike can only be taken by the Transport Department as per Section 67 of the Indian Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. The RTA meeting was delayed due to Puja holidays. The Deputy Commissioner will now decide on this. Hopefully a decision will be taken within one or two days to save commuters from any harassment.”