Thousands of taxis remained off the roads on Monday following a strike called by AITUC affiliated Kolkata Taxi Operators Coordination Committee and West Bengal Taxi Operators Coordination Committee on Monday and Tuesday. Private organizations like Uber and Ola took advantage of the situation when they charged three or four times the original fare to drop passengers off at their required destination.
This had caused serious inconvenience to the commuters and many of them had to remain stranded at Howrah and Sealdah station.
Santosh Sadhuka, a physically challenged person, who came from Bagnan did not find a single taxi outside Howrah station on Monday morning. As he was unable to travel in a crowded bus, he had to wait for hours outside the Howrah station.
Later, he somehow managed to get a cab. He had no option but to pay an exorbitant charge to the cab driver as he found no taxi to shuttle him to a place which was barely 10 km away from Howrah station.
As there were no taxis at the prepaid counters of Howrah and Sealdah stations people had to travel in buses most of which were over crowded.
The strike is expected to extend till Tuesday as the protest may continue against the atrocities of a section of police personnel.
The unions have threatened to go for an indefinite strike completely collapsing the transport system if the situation continues.
The strike has been called to increase the taxi fare and to protest against the police atrocities. Taxi drivers and the member of the operators union said that police slap them with exorbitant fines. If a taxi is placed in a no parking zone the driver has to pay a fine between Rs 400-600, whereas the actual fine is Rs 100.
Naol Kishore Srivastav, General Secretary of the operators union said he had urged the central labour unions including CITU and they have supported the strike.
All the luxury taxi operators have also been requested to support the strike. To meet their demands, the members of various taxi operators union and the taxi drivers held a rally from College Square to Y channel.
The Bengal Taxi Association did not support the strike. Bimal Guha, the General Secretary of the Bengal Taxi Association said that there is no question of supporting the strike. We will run our vehicles in two days and the police should take actions to prevent any untoward incident.
The organisations who went to strike have threatened to continue their strike if the state transport department did not give assurance to fulfill their demands.
They will submit a memorandum to the transport department placing their demands. Refusal to ferry passengers in the city has been a major problem, until the State Government made it mandatory that taxis cannot refuse to ferry passengers.
The State Government had recently hiked the bus fares by Rupee 1, across all stages.
Already, the city had witnessed three wildcat strikes by these drivers’ unions in August last year.
Taxi operators have been urged by various sections of people not to go on strike this time as the various examinations are scheduled to take place now.