Autos, taxis stay off roads, commuters hit

A majority of over 55,000 auto rickshaws remained off the city roads on Tuesday in support of the one-day strike call given by non-Congress unions demanding hike in fares and installation of GPS in the vehicles at the rate promised by the Delhi government.

As a result, commuters were left stranded or waiting in various parts of the city- especially at railway stations and bus stations. The problems faced by the commuters can be gauged by the fact that not a single pre-paid slip was issued till 1 pm at the New Delhi Railway Station. “Usually, we manage to issue around 500 to 600 pre-paid slips by this time,” said the official present there.

The misery of many turned out to be an opportunity for some. The auto and taxi drivers who were not supporting the strike had a field day, fleecing the hapless commuters. “I am paying Rs 400 to go to Anand Vihar,” said a commuter who managed to hire a taxi from the railway station. Similar cases of overcharging were also reported by several commuters in various parts of the city.

Many were caught unawares. “I had no idea about the strike. I would have gone in a metro if I were alone but I am with my grandmother. Now I am waiting from my brother, who will pick us in his car,” said Sumedha Singh, a Vaishali resident stranded at the Old Delhi Railway Station. The auto unions on strike claimed that more than 40,000 of a total 55, 000 autorickshaws remained off the roads and it was a very successful strike.

“The strike was successful. Almost 80 per cent of the autorickshaws remained off roads.

The fact that so many drivers chose to stay off road, despite all the Congress backed unions opposing the strike, shows the discontent among the drivers,” said Rajender Soni, president, Bhartiya Private Transport Mazdoor Mahasangh.

He threatened that this was a symbolic strike and if the government does not accept their demands, they would go on an indefinite strike after the Navratras.

Contrary to all this, Delhi government has found the strike had no impact on the normal life in the city. “The strike called by auto and taxi unions had no impact on normal life in city as DTC had taken all steps to cater to the transport needs of awaiting persons due to apprehension of strike. Around 5,000 buses were deployed for plying on prescribed routes across the city. We have received no complaints from the passengers,” said Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami while thanking the unions which kept away from the proposed strike.

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