Taxi operators’ unions in Kolkata have threatened yet another strike and a “bigger agitation” after December 15 if the state government does not concede to their demands for a fare hike and curbs on app-based cab services.
The threat came on a day commuters all across Kolkata faced a real hard time due to the 48-hours taxi strike called by the CPI-M’s trade union wing, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) with outside support from the West Bengal Taxi Workers Federation, Bengal Taxi Association, Calcutta Taxi Association and West Bengal Taxi Drivers Welfare Association.
Friday was the second and last day of the strike that had started from 6 am on Thursday.
With over 30,000 yellow taxis staying off the roads for the second consecutive day, hundreds of commuters remained stranded for hours at Howrah and Sealdah railway stations and at Kolkata airport. Patients coming from the suburbs and the districts for treatment in Kolkata hospitals faced similar ordeal.
There were several taxis parked at Sealdah railway station and elsewhere along the city roads, but the drivers’ demanded exorbitantly high fares. The situation was such that where the regular fare is Rs 120; such drivers today fleeced Rs 500 from the commuters.
The handful of app-based cab services such as Ola, Uber, Meru Cabs etc failed to cater to the huge surge in demand. Besides not every commuter has an android phone or is familiar with this new-age cab service providers.
But even before the ordeal caused by the strike ending, the four taxi operators’ unions today threatened yet another strike after 15 December, if the government does not meet their demands by then. On that occasion, the strike could last for an indefinite period, they have threatened.
Other thank hike in fare and end in police harassment, the taxi operators are demanding that the state government should control the fare structure of app-based cabs as well and bring them under a licensing regime.