Guwahati: Much to the relief of commuters, Guwahati's city buses today resumed plying with 100% capacity. Although the buses will be allowed to ply with full capacity, none of the passengers will be allowed to stand during the commute period, as per a recent Government order.
Earlier, the All Assam Motor Transport Association, claiming that the post-COVID regulations have made it impossible for bus owners to make profits, had called for an indefinite strike causing life in Guwahati to come to a screeching halt. The transport body demanded a hike in fares of commercial vehicles, waiver of quarter tax, and road tax reduction of up to 50 percent, among others. The 50% seating capacity rule imposed by the government in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak also irked the body, which complained that several buses are sitting idle on the street side due to the ongoing crisis.
The strike, which began on October 5, was finally called off yesterday after some of the demands of the body were met by the government. After a series of consultations and deliberations, the Assam Government acquiesced to the body's demand for running buses with 100% seating capacity.
"The Health and Family Welfare Department after careful consideration of all aspects of the matter…..has decided to agree to the request of the Transport Department subject to Transport Department ensuring compliance to following conditions," an order issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department said. In the same order, the Department laid down the rules and regulations that are to be followed during the plying of buses.
As per the government''s order, the vehicles should not carry passengers more than the allowed seating capacity. Moreover, all the passengers must be wearing masks while boarding the bus and no one shall be allowed to board a vehicle without wearing a mask. The driver and other staff have also been asked to wear masks at all times during the duration of the journey.
Moreover, the vehicle owners have been tasked with ensuring the availability of sanitizers in the vehicle. The vehicle should be sanitized after every completion of a journey on a route.
Now, after much ado, the buses are returning to the streets with full seating capacity. Only time will tell whether all the precautions prescribed by the Government shall be followed, though.