Examinees and office-goers are in for a tough time from Thursday, as taxis and a large chunk of buses and minibuses have decided to go on an indefinite strike. The agitation is part of a state-wide movement for increased fares, in the wake of the frequent hikes in the price of diesel.
About 6,000 private buses, 1,800 minibuses and 35,000 taxis ply the city and its adjoining areas daily. The state government has appealed to the unions to call off the strike, in view of the ICSE and other examinations. Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty has convened a meeting with the organisations on Thursday to discuss the fare-hike demand. Neither Chakraborty nor minister of state for transport Narayan Biswas was available for comment at Writers’ Buildings during the day.
Transport secretary H.P. Roy said on Wednesday that he had contacted Chakraborty in Bolpur in the morning and the government will try to ply as many buses as possible. “We had earlier requested the transport organisations not to call a strike during the examinations. We are trying our best to persuade them to withdraw the strike,” said Roy.
However, representatives of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, Bengal MiniBus Owners’ Syndicate, Bengal Taxi Association, Calcutta Taxi Association and the Progressive Taximen’s Union, said they were not aware of any meeting called on Thursday by the transport minister.
The situation is likely to compound further from March 24, when several other bus and minibus organisations, including major private bus body Bengal Bus Syndicate, will go on a two-day strike pressing for a similar demand.