Monday, 30th October 2017

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Bustling Guwahati comes to a standstill

The commuters on the roads were those driving their private vehicles

By Debananda Medak in Guwahati
  • Published 24.03.20, 1:37 AM
  • Updated 24.03.20, 1:37 AM
  • a min read
People queue up at a petrol pump in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by UB Photos

The usual traffic snarls experienced throughout the day across this city were missing on Monday, as the city buses, autorickshaws and the app-based cabs were not seen honking to negotiate their way through snarls.

The commuters on the roads were those driving their private vehicles. Quite literally, the city turned still due to the coronavirus scare.

In an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic, city bus services, both public and private, have been suspended since March 22 to 31 with the lockdown to be clamped from Tuesday. Though not suspended officially, most of the cabs offering Ola and Uber services were also off the road.

Prafulla Sarma, an Ola driver, said: “The company has not suspended its services. However, hundreds of Ola drivers, including I, opted to remain off the roads and are trying our best to maintain social distance. I cannot put myself as well as my family at risk. We can earn enough money, not lives.”

Sarma used to stay in a rented house along with his wife and four-year-old daughter at Ganeshguri, here. However, a day before the janata curfew, he vacated the rented house and returned to his permanent residence in lower Assam’s Nalbari district. “We will come back if normalcy returns,” Sarma said.

Shimanta Gogoi, the owner of an Maruti Alto-800 car, who drives his vehicle under Uber services, said: “Problem is neither you have medicines nor reliable doctors to get cured if infected. Our fear and conscience were intensified by the janata curfew. Accordingly, most of the taxi drivers stopped plying on the roads. We do not need a formal suspension letter from the company. Life is mine.”

All Guwahati AutoRickshaw Owners’ Association president Yusuf Ahmed said, “There was a coordination meeting among the auto drivers of Kamrup (Metro) district on Sunday. We resolved to remain off the roads to cooperate with the government’s effort to maintain social distance. However, we also resolved to provide emergency services on humanitarian grounds since city bus service is suspended.”

Kamaljyoti Das from Hengrabari, a bike owner, has also stopped working for Uber. “I do not know whether the company has suspended its services or not. But, I abandoned the company in view of coronavirus,” Das said.