Tough time for commuters as autos, taxis stay off roads

Bhubaneswar: Passengers across the state were seen having a harrowing time as auto-rickshaws and taxis have kept off roads since 6 am today as part of the 12-hour strike called by different associations of auto rickshaw and taxi drivers.

More than 1.35 lakh auto-rickshaws and 10,000 taxis have joined the strike demanding social and financial security.

Office goers, students and people in general were seen either waiting for city buses or walking to their destinations.

“I cannot walk for long distances because of my knee joint problems and was forced to take a tricycle trolley to reach my home from railway station because of the auto-rickshaw strike,” said Swati Bhuyan, a passenger.

The association alleged that both the State government and Centre are acting against the interest of auto and taxi drivers. Padman Samal, General Secretary of the All-Odisha auto and taxi drivers’ association stated, “Whenever there is a rise in fuel prices, a technical team decides on increasing bus fares. However, there is no such mechanism for light vehicles such as taxi and auto rickshaws. We demand revision in fare chart as per the fuel price hike.”

“The Centre should find a solution in view of the fuel price hike. Apart from this, the State government should also put pressure on the Centre to resolve the issue,” Subash Singh, president of the All-Odisha Auto-rickshaw Driver’s Association.

The associations are also opposing an increase in the fitness tax and insurance premium of vehicles. “Once the Smart City project is implemented in Bhubaneswar, auto rickshaws and taxis will not be allowed to ply on main roads. We oppose such arbitrary decision,” said an agitating auto driver.