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Strike for fare hike hurts

- Autorickshaws off roads, commuters face tough time

Seventeen-year-old Aatif Aslam, an IIT aspirant, had to wait for half-an-hour at the Boring Road roundabout on Tuesday for an autorickshaw.

Finding not even one owing to the strike called by an autorickshaw union, Aslam covered half a kilometre (from AN College to Boring Road roundabout) on foot.

“I did not find a single auto near Jamuna Apartment (Boring Road). So I decided to come to Boring Road on foot but the situation was similar here. My coaching centre is in the Kankerbagh area. If I don’t get any station-bound auto from here (Boring Road roundabout), I won’t be able to reach my coaching class. If I go to my tuitions by a rickshaw, I would end up shelling out extra money as well,” said Aslam.

He had to eventually miss his coaching class.

He was not the only one inconvenienced because of the autorickshaw strike.

Bharat Kumar (29), a private firm employee, got onto a station-bound autorickshaw from Boring Road roundabout but ended up paying more than he usually does. “The autorickshaw driver asked me to pay Rs 20, double of what I pay for the journey. Even autorickshaw drivers, who have not joined the strike, are asking for higher fares. Commuters like us are forced to pay the exorbitant charges as we have no other option,” rued Bharat.

Sudhir Kumar Singh, a Muzaffarpur resident and a heart patient failed to visit his doctor even after an appointment. Singh was left stranded for around half-an-hour at Patna Junction, as he could not find any Boring Road-bound autorickshaw. “Today, I had an appointment with a cardiologist at Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences but I couldn’t reach the hospital. After reaching Patna Junction, I found no autorickshaw willing to go to Boring Road or Bailey Road. After struggling for half-an-hour at Station Road, I took an autorickshaw to go to my relative’s residence at Rajeev Nagar,” said Singh.

Autorickshaw drivers of Mazdoor Sangh (Indian National Trade Union Congress) went on a daylong strike on Tuesday to push for their demand of increasing the fare. Sources said commuters had to face problem in a few areas, including Boring Road, Station Road and Bailey Road.

Ramesh Singh, the president of the Mazdoor Sangh, said: “There are around 15,000 autorickshaw drivers associated with us. We called the strike to demand increasing the fare. We have started charging Re 1 more than the usual fare but the move did not get good response. Residents even beat up some drivers.”

Members of the other auto unions did not support the strike. “The strike called by Mazdoor Sangh is not right. They have no right to increase the fare without the permission of the regional transport office,” said Naveen Mishra, the member of Patna Zila Autorickshaw Chalak Sangh.