Chennai: The strike called by All India Motor Transport Organisation affected the routine life of public in the city, with many struggling to get transportation to schools, colleges and offices this morning.
As part of the strike, a demonstration by trade union members took place on Anna Salai. However, traffic was not affected on the stretch.
The protesters, mainly auto and cab drivers, demanded withdrawal of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill and increase in the insurance premium and fuel prices.
Even as the MTC buses managed to get 70 per cent drivers to work, majority of autos, share autos and call taxis stayed off the road.
Speaking to ‘News Today’, State head of auto drivers union, CITU, S Balasubramaniam said,“Only 20 per cent auto drivers are working today. One of our demands is that petrol be brought under the ambit of Goods and Service Taxes (GST). We want the price of petrol to be reduced. The rate difference between petrol and diesel must be at least at Rs 50. But now, the petrol price is Rs 80 and diesel is priced at Rs 72. Gas must be sold at an average of Rs 40, instead it is available at Rs 45.”
He also said that the success of the strike was because 90 per cent of auto drivers did not accept rides to schools. The hike in insurance premium affects the lives of drivers. There are families which depend on a single income and we cannot afford to pay so much.
Operators of load vehicles, vans, share autos, lorry and call taxis have joined hands to refrain from services. President of State Transport Employees Union P Balakrishnan said, “15 Trade Unions in the city joined the strike except for Anna Thozhir Sangam (ATS) and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). We look forward to a positive outcome from the protests.”
This morning cab services experienced a lot of demand from customers calling for trips to workplaces and hospitals. Even as many customers claimed that app-based services were not available, a spokesperson of Ola cabs claimed that the services were available as usual.
Tamilnadu Call Taxi Owners and Drivers Association, V Balakrishnan said, “50 per cent of drivers supported out protest. From morning there has been a demand for taxis and we had to turn them down. We explained to customers the reason behind the strike.”
K Anbazhagan, an MTC driver said,”70 per cent of MTC buses are running from early morning. For example, at Ayanavaram depot, 123 out of 147 buses are running. The buses are re-routed to cover all areas. However, since the department is short staffed for the day, the timings and frequency of buses are affected.”
In Tamilnadu, out of 2,35,000 registered autos, only 20% are on roads today.
70% buses are plying across the city.
Over 50% of call taxis drivers supported the protest