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Rising fuel prices: Mini-bus operators to stop services, app-based cabs stage protest

Rising fuel prices: Mini-bus operators to stop services, app-based cabs stage protest
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Kolkata: Mini-bus operators have decided to stop their services due to spiraling diesel prices and high maintenance cost from Wednesday.

"Mini-buses will be off the roads from Wednesday. The reasons are fuel prices hiked for the 22nd time on Monday in just over three weeks and COVID-19. Today, the diesel price is Rs 75.64 per litre," said Pradip Narayan Bose, secretary of West Bengal Bus and Mini-Bus Owners' Association. He reiterated that only five percent of the mini-buses are plying in the city at present and the owners are suffering losses because even the fuel cost cannot be met from the fares realised at the end of the day. "Leave alone other expenses related to vehicle insurance, road tax and maintenance. We are not forcing the mini-bus owners to stop services. It is up to the owners to take a call," pointed out Bose. While there are 3000-3500 mini-buses in the state, 1500-1800 used to ply during pre-lockdown period. Private buses have stopped running since March 25, the day the nationwide lockdown was imposed.

Meanwhile, online cab operators staged a protest against rising prices of fuel and burnt effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the city on Tuesday. The protesters raised slogans against the BJP government at the Centre and demanded prices of petrol and diesel be brought down immediately. "Ola and Uber drivers are bearing the brunt of the diesel price hike. Today, the diesel price is Rs 75.64 per litre. The prices hiked for the 22nd time on Monday in just over three weeks. With the rising diesel cost, barely 10 percent of the cabs are operating currently. We demand immediate price slash," said Indrajit Ghosh of Kolkata Ola Uber App-Cab Operator and Drivers Union, who led the protest from Subodh Mallick Square that terminated near Hind Cinema where the PM's effigy was burnt.

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