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regular-article-logo Friday, 14 June 2024

14,000 buses remain off roads in Odisha as ‘indefinite’ strike cripples commuters

Owners are protesting against Odisha government’s newly introduced Location Accessible Multi-modal Initiative bus service in which state government started operating affordable bus services in a phased manner

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 21.10.23, 07:12 AM
Buses parked at the Baramunda bus stand in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Buses parked at the Baramunda bus stand in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Ashwinee Pati

More than 14,000 private buses in Odisha went off the road on Friday as the All Odisha Bus Owners’ Association began an indefinite strike.

The bus owners are protesting against the Odisha government’s newly introduced Location Accessible Multi-modal Initiative (LAccMI) bus service in which the state government started operating affordable bus services in a phased manner.

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Chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday launched the LAccMI services for the Gajapati district. Earlier, he had launched the bus services for Malkangiri district.

Under the scheme, the state plans to operate 1,000 buses connecting panchayat-level and block-level destinations to the district headquarters. It will later be extended to the state headquarters and important places of pilgrimage and urban centres.

All Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association secretary Debendra Sahu told
The Telegraph: “Our only demand is that the government should not operate the bus service under LAccMI connecting blocks to district headquarters. They can ply the buses only connecting the panchayat to the block headquarters.”

Late on Friday evening, the bus owners had a meeting with the state commerce and transport minister and at the meeting, the state government urged the bus owners to withdraw the strike and agreed to discuss their demands on October 26. The bus owners’ association then decided to put on hold their strike till October 31.

The commuters on Friday vented their anger as they waited for hours to get some transportation facilities to go to their villages during the Puja.

“The Puja celebration has begun. The government was earlier informed about
the private owners’ decision to go on a strike, but they failed to make adequate arrangements for smooth transportation.

“The government should have deployed more buses to ease the commuters’ trouble,” said Ramakanta Patra, an employee in a private company.

Another commuter alleged that as the private buses remained off the road, the local taxis and autos were charging exorbitant fares.

“It’s beyond our paying capacity,” said another commuter Sanjay Das.

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