The shortage of smaller denomination notes has almost paralysed the transport system in the city, with people at different stations and other important places facing trouble in hauling taxis or other means of transport to reach their respective destinations.
The situation did not improve even after some people were able to withdraw money from banks. The reason being most people were carrying Rs 2,000 notes and it was near impossible for taxi drivers to give change to the customers.
As a result, most of the taxi drivers decided not to drive their vehicles on Friday.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Thursday said that there was an “unannounced strike” all over the state, as there were very few public vehicles on road and many shops were also closed.
The transport sector seemed to be the worst hit on Thursday, due to the Centre’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and 1000 notes. Comparatively lesser taxis operated till the evening in the city.
People who reached Howrah and Sealdah stations from different parts of the country after a two-night train journey faced inconvenience due to shortage of taxis. The ones that were available were not ready to accept Rs 500 and 1000 notes.
Malati Ghosh, who reached Howrah Station Thursday morning, said: “I had boarded the train day before yesterday within a few hours of the announcement. I had only two Rs 100 notes and the rest were of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations. It was not possible for me at that time to withdraw more Rs 100 notes from an ATM as I was in a hurry to catch the train. Now, I am facing problems. No one is ready to take the notes that I have on me.”
Ghosh, is a resident of Garia, said she had no option other than hiring a taxi as she was carrying many heavy bags. Her notes were also not accepted at the pre-paid taxi stands. “The taxi drivers were not even ready to go after they came to know that I don’t have notes of lower denomination than Rs 500. Finally, I contacted my brother. He came to Howrah station with some more Rs 100 notes and I booked a pre-paid taxi,” she said.
The app-based cab operators have also instructed their drivers not to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. As a result, people were bereft of the option of booking an app-based cab at a time when there are fewer taxis on road.
Bablu Patra, a taxi driver, said: “I went out with my vehicle this afternoon expecting that there will be no problem today. But the situation was bad as people were giving Rs 2000 notes and I didn’t have enough Rs 100 notes to return the balance amount. Moreover, people were not saying while getting into the taxi that they were having only Rs 2000 notes and the problem crops up after reaching their destination. Thus, I decided to stop plying my taxi today, despite knowing that it would lead to huge loss.”