Hours after Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced night curfew to contain the new strain of the Coronavirus on Wednesday, commercial vehicle operators, including cab drivers, protested the unilateral measure without consulting the stakeholders.
Radhakrishna Holla, president of the Karnataka State Tourist Vehicle Operators Association, said the government should have considered their situation before announcing strictures that directly affect their business.
"The two weeks between Christmas eve to the first few days of the new year is a crucial holiday season for all commercial vehicle operators. We had hoped to get enough bookings to sustain our business which has been hit hard by Covid-19. The government should have consulted all the stakeholders before announcing such a move," Holla said, adding that their entire bookings do not come to even 10% of the pre-pandemic levels.
Most of the major operators have surrendered their vehicles, including over 12,000 buses, to avoid paying hefty road taxes ranging from about Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh per quarter depending on the vehicle.
"The government should give us exemption from the Motor Vehicle Tax for at least one year if we have to survive in the business. We have already lost 80% of our workforce, which is crucial for our economy to run," he added.
Ola, Taxi For Sure and Uber Drivers and Owners Association president Tanveer Pasha said night travel during the holiday season had helped lakhs of drivers to earn their bread.
"The business from corporate companies has stopped completely due to the work from home measures. We had a little earning left in the evenings and night when people came out in the evenings. The government's illogical decision to allow all activities in the morning and ban them only at night will hurt us," he said.
Auto drivers shared similar concerns and suggested that all commercial vehicles should be exempted from the night curfew rules. "Our earnings have not touched even half of the pre-pandemic levels as people fear boarding commercial vehicles. The government should see our plight and provide an exemption from such rules," said C Sampath, General Secretary of Adarsha Auto Union.