Some of the demands of these bus owners include raising ticket rates for students and withdrawal of orders demanding mandatory installation of surveillance cameras and seat belts.
Thiruvananthapuram: Private bus owners in Kerala have called for a day-long strike in light of the government’s refusal to meet their demands. Some of the demands of these bus owners include raising ticket rates for students and withdrawal of orders demanding mandatory installation of surveillance cameras and seat belts.
Along with the private bus owners, the Kannur Bus Operators Association Coordination Committee also decided to join the strike in a meeting held on Sunday. The Kannur wing of the bus association will also participate in the indefinite strike beginning on November 21.
The development comes as the Kerala Transport Department made seat belts and surveillance cameras mandatory for issuing fitness certificates for heavy vehicles from November 1. As per the state order, seatbelts are mandatory for all the front occupants of buses.
Under the banner of Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation (KSPBOF), the private bus owners criticised the minister to discuss the issue.
“We demand an increase in students’ ticket fare and the reinstatement of the bus permits taken away from us. The minister is silent on both these issues. Instead, he tried to deviate the topic to seat belts and cameras,” T Gopinathan, general convenor of KSPBOF, was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
The bus owners also accused the minister of trying to scuttle students’ fare hikes on previous occasions, too. These private bus owners have been demanding an increase in students’ ticket fares since March 24, 2021 and they were also demanding the minimum concession fare be fixed at `6. The rate was last fixed at `2 in 2012.
Even as the Justice Ramachandran Commission recommended increasing students’ fares along with the general hike in May 2022, the state government decided to appoint another committee headed by Planning Board member K Ravi Raman to study the recommendation on students’ fares.
The private bus owners said they are not against seat belts and cameras. “Before making seat belts mandatory, the government should consider the practical aspects. It is the women and children who sit in the front row, in addition to the driver. It may not be possible always to insist they wear seat belts. If they refuse to do so, it will not be feasible for us to pay a fine to the motor vehicle department,” said Gopinathan.
For the day-long strike across the state, several routes will be closed and commuters will face difficulty in reaching workplaces, schools on time.