Commuters had a harrowing time in Assam on Monday as transport came to a standstill following a 24-hour nationwide chakka bandh called by All India Road Transport in association with Sadou Asom Motor Shromik Jutiya Parishad to press for their various demands.
Passengers and goods transport vehicles were off the road but private vehicles were seen plying on the road as usual.
The transport union called the 24-hour chakka bandh in protest against the centre’s move to pass the road transport and safety bill, 2016, and amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, without provisions for the transport workers’ welfare.
According to the transport union, they have been demanding pensions, medical benefits for families, financial aid for education of their children’s and providing training to drivers and helpers of the vehicle.
“We are demanding rollback of the increase in third-party insurance premium, vehicle registration fee, including renewal fees for permit, fitness certificate and licence imposed by the regional transport offices in different states as envisaged in the transport bill,” a member of transport union said.
Life in Guwahati was virtually brought on standstill on Monday due to the twenty four hours chakka bandh.
Biren Sharma, General Secretary of the Assam unit of All Assam Road Transport Worker’s Association said, ” We know that public had to face harassment due to the twenty four hours chakka bandh called by us. However, we were helpless because the government was not giving importance to our demands. If our demands are not met, in the future we will start indefinite bandh.”
As no city buses were seen on the road, only public transport pyling on the streets were the buses provided by Assam State Transport Corportation (ASTC). However, the number of ASTC buses were not sufficient to take care of the stream of communters on a busy Monday.
While the private cab operators like Ola and Uber were on the road, they took advantage of the situation and charged exorbitant rates which added to the woe of the Guwahati denizens.
The bandh had affected normal life in upper Assam because of non-plying of private vehicles. People were seen boarding trains to reach the destination. “Yesterday I came to my aunt’s house in Dibrugarh from Digboi and due to chakka bandh I’ve to travel by train. I’ve to reach Digboi before the dusk but I will reach later,” Ankur Dutta, a resident of Dibrugarh said.
Long distance private buses were off the road and people were having tough time. “I don’t know about chakka bandh. Early morning I have come to bus stand because I have to go to Golaghat for some work. But after reaching bus stand I came to know about the bandh and now feeling annoyed. There is no train to Golaghat and I have to stay in Dibrugarh,” Nayan Dhar said.