Hours after Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced night curfew to contain the new strain of the coronavirus on Wednesday, commercial vehicle operators, including cab drivers, protested the unilateral measure taken without consulting the stakeholders.
Radhakrishna Holla, president of the Karnataka State Tourist Vehicle Operators’ Association, said the government should have considered their condition before announcing the rules that directly affect their business.
“The two weeks between Christmas eve and the first few days of the New Year are a crucial holiday season for all commercial vehicle operators. We had hoped to get sufficient bookings to sustain our business which is hit hard by Covid-19. The government should have consulted all the stakeholders before announcing such a move,” Holla said.
He said 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 as 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 earn a little in the evenings and night when people come out of the houses. The government’s illogical decision to allow all activities in the morning and ban them only at night will hurt us,” he said.
The autorickshaw drivers shared similar concerns and suggested that all commercial vehicles should be exempted from the night curfew rules.
C Sampath, general secretary of Adarsha Auto Union, said, “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.”