regular-article-logo Thursday, 05 October 2023

Private bus owners in North Dinajpur district, on a five-day strike since Saturday, extend the protest

While 90 private buses were off roads for past five days, number will now go up to 200

Kousik Sen Raiganj Published 08.06.23, 06:09 AM
Private buses parked at the Raiganj terminus on Wednesday

Private buses parked at the Raiganj terminus on Wednesday Picture by Kousik Sen

Private bus owners in North Dinajpur district, who were on a five-day strike since Saturday, have on Wednesday extended the ambit of the protest.

The bus owners have announced an indefinite bus strike from Thursday. Also, while 90 private buses were off the roads for the past five days, the number will now go up to 200.


Bus owners have alleged that the civic authorities of Dalkhola, a town in the district located at the junction of NH12 and NH27, have been forcing them to run their buses through the town instead of a bypass that connects the two highways. They said that as the civic authorities did not budge from their stand, they were being forced to extend their strike.

“We stopped running buses that move through Dalkhola since last Saturday, seeking the administration’s intervention. We pay toll charges to run our buses along the highway and have every right to use the bypass route. But we were being forced to move through the town. As the administration has not taken any initiative so far (till Wednesday), we have decided to stop running private buses on all routes from tomorrow (Thursday) for an indefinite period,” said Plabon Pramanik, the secretary of the Raiganj Bus Minibus Welfare Association.

Around 200 private buses move from the district to different destinations of the state every day, especially in north Bengal districts.

For decades, Dalkhola was known for its severe traffic congestion because of a railway level-crossing that cuts through the town. Every day, around 100 trains move through the route and the crossing is closed frequently, which halts road traffic.

A few months back, a bypass with a road over-bridge was opened on the route. Since then, trucks, other heavy vehicles and even buses used the bypass.

Pramanik alleged that recently, the local municipality and police were forcing private buses to move through the town along the old route.

Swadesh Sarkar, the chairman of Dalkhola municipality, however, held a different view.

“There is a clear instruction from the transport department that all buses, barring long-distance express ones, have to move through Dalkhola town. As these buses were using the bypass and not entering the town, residents and people travelling to Dalkhola faced inconveniences. Both ends of the bypass are on the outskirts of the town,” he said.

“Unlike earlier days, there is no traffic snarl in Dalkhola now as trucks and private vehicles use the bypass,” Sarkar added.

The smaller strike hit commuters hard. The “indefinite” one will be worse, feared a daily commuter in Raiganj.

“With private buses off the road, we can only bank on government buses now to reach our workplaces. From Thursday, the situation will worsen. Bus owners and the administration should resolve the issue,” Sarkar said.

Sources in the administration said they were disappointed with the bus owners’ decision. “In some route permits, Dalkhola is cited as a stoppage. These private buses will have to move through the town. We will hold a meeting with bus owners,” said an official.

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