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Taxi strike against parking shift

Darjeeling, May 2: Taxi syndicates in Kurseong launched an indefinite strike from today to protest the administration’s decision to shift the vehicles’ parking to outside the town.

Even vehicles ferrying school students and drinking water to residents did not ply in Kurseong today. Over 500 taxis operate in Kurseong under 19 syndicates.

Earlier, taxies used to park along NH55 and Burdwan Road in town. But from today, the vehicles would be allocated space at the INA Bus Terminus and Monteviot Football Ground, which are outside the town area.

The Kurseong subdivisional officer, U. Swaroop, had issued an order on April 29 re-arranging the parking system, citing traffic chaos in the town.

Tilak Gurung, the president of Chalak Mahasangh, an umbrella organisation of the syndicates, said: “We have called an indefinite transport strike in Kurseong to protest the new traffic system. The administration could have waited till the new parking space is built. With the administration refusing to allow any vehicle to be parked in the town area, the public will be largely inconvenienced.”

According to the new system, only one vehicle per syndicate would be allowed to come to the town. Once these vehicles leave with passengers, the next taxi in queue can come to the earmarked space and pick up commuters.

Gurung said: “If only one vehicle per syndicate is allowed to come to the town, there will be chaos during rush hours. If people are to get onto the taxis at the bus terminus and Monteviot Ground, they will have to walk for more than a kilometre.”

The SDO said taxi drivers had been consulted in February before taking the decision to change the parking space. “This is not a unilateral decision. They (taxi drivers) had probably thought that the new system would not be put in place so early.”

Gurung, however, said a final decision had not been taken at the meeting. “Five or six representatives of various syndicates had attended the meeting. However, a final decision had not been taken. The representatives, too, have to speak to the members of the syndicates before agreeing to the administration’s decision.”

A multilevel parking lot is being built by the GTA Sabha in the town and according to Swaroop, given the present state of traffic in Kurseong, it was difficult to wait till the construction was over. The parking lot is likely to be completed only at the end of this year.

Gurung said a delegation of taxi drivers would meet the SDO tomorrow.