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Strike off for 10 days

Siliguri, Sept. 21: Private bus owners in the region have withdrawn their indefinite strike for 10 days starting today based on the transport minister’s assurance that the issue of fare hike would be looked into.

For the past four days, over 6,000 private buses and maxi cabs that ply in the region have been off roads and commuters had to depend on 600-odd government buses and a few light vehicles to reach their destinations.

Pranab Mani, the secretary of the North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Co-ordination Committee, said: “Our demands for the immediate revision of fare, which was last revised in 2008, and repair of roads have not been met yet. But we are banking on the commitment given by the state transport minister, Madan Mitra, and the north Bengal development minister, Gautam Deb. We have decided to withdraw the strike from today.”

He added that strike was being withdrawn for 10 days. “We would decide on the future course of action on September 30. It might so happen that if our demands are not met in 10 days, we might resume our indefinite strike,” Mani said.

According to private bus owners, they were incurring losses everyday because of the rise in diesel prices.

“Anyone is welcome to make simple mathematical calculations to find out whether our demand for a fare revision is rational. The pathetic road condition has become another problem,” said a bus owner.

“Although the strike was withdrawn today, more than half of the bus owners kept their vehicles off the roads. They have expressed inability to run the buses,” he added.

Minister Deb said the state government was looking into the issue.

“The state is sincere in resolving the problem at the earliest. The tender process for repairing highways that are with the state PWD has been initiated and work will commence soon. Regarding NH31D, we are have been asking the NHAI to repair it because the highway is under their jurisdiction. The bus owners need to understand our limitations. We request them to continue running buses to minimise the inconvenience of the common people,” he said.