With the onset of the Durga Puja, passengers are expected to face a harrowing time as private buses are reportedly going to be off roads from October 20 onwards protesting the launch of affordable transportation across the state under the location-accessible multimodal initiative (LAccMI).
The private bus owners’ association on Tuesday announced its decision to go on strike after its general body meeting. Flip-flopping on its earlier decision to defer its October 10 strike till October 31, the association has decided to start its indefinite strike from October 20, accusing the state government of reneging on its assurance on the LAccMI bus services.
Speaking to the media, the treasurer of the private bus owner's association, Barda Acharya said,” We had earlier decided to start the strike from October 10, 2023, in protest against the launching of the LAccMI bus services from panchayats to the district headquarters. But we were called by the CMO to the discussion table on October 9. LAccMI bus services were to be launched initially in six districts.”
"The CMO assured us not to run the buses from the block headquarters to the district headquarters. The association proposed the government run the buses from the panchayats to the blocks while our buses would ply from the block to the district level. Both sides agreed and we postponed the October 10 strike till October 31 on the conditions agreed upon. Accordingly, the Chief Minister inaugurated LAccMI bus services in Malkangiri,” Acharya stated.
However, he claimed that on the same day, the LAccMI bus services were run from the block to the district level, which was immediately opposed by the association.
“When we asked about deviation from what was discussed, they said they would talk about the issue later. We again hear that such bus services will be launched in Gajapati on October 20. If that happens, we are left nowhere. Our business will be badly affected,” he added.
He informed that the general body of the association decided to start an indefinite strike from October 20 even though a decision was taken to defer it till October 31.
Notably, the association had proposed the government to include the private buses under the scheme.