Suryakant Jena

Despite Odisha government allowing resumption of bus services across the state from today after several weeks of pandemic lockdown restrictions, private bus owners have however refused to normalise the operations until reaching an agreement with the government on fulfilment of demands.

Secretary of the State Bus Owners' Association, Barada Prasanna Acharya today informed that private buses will not run in the state till the government assures to fulfil their demands like financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh, extension of insurance, deferment of loan EMIs among others.

“We welcome the decision of the government to normalise the bus services but before that it should have made its stance clear on several suggestions made by us. We want the government to extend our EMIs for six more months and also relax the loan agreement period to 40 months. But so far we have neither been called for any discussion nor our demands have been fulfilled,” Acharya said.

"We are suffering from severe crisis due to two pandemic waves one after the other in quick succession but the way we have been burdened with interest and overdue compounded interest, if we resume our services without any relaxations, we are heading for insolvency," he added.

Acharya also pointed out that apart from the A category districts, the government has still several restrictions like lockown after 5 pm, weekend shutdowns in 10 other category B districts. Not only that, skyrocketing prices of fuel and disease scare which is forcing people not to come out. "Under such limits we will not even be able to make it break even forget about profits,” said Acharya.

He demanded that the government should call all the five top representatives of the bus associations from the state for a discussion in this regard at the earliest for the general good of all. 

Acharya said that due to indecision, some vehicle owners resumed transport today but they have been asked to keep their buses off the roads from tomorrow and till an unanimous decision is made with the government.