Delhi-NCR transport strike: Commuters, schools hit as transport unions, Ola, Uber drivers protest hefty fines
Transport strike in Delhi-NCR: Transport unions across Delhi and National Capital Region are holding a day-long strike on Thursday to protest heavy penalties under the newly amended Motor Vehicles Act. The transport strike has also garnered support from ride-hailing services, auto-rickshaw unions, cluster buses and truckers. The transport strike call by these commercial operators is expected to cause a huge inconvenience to commuters. Reports say several schools in the Delhi-NCR region will remain closed due to the unavailability of buses today. It will be a tough task for office-goers to reach their destinations during early morning hours as a large number of auto-rickshaws, taxis, Ola and Uber cabs and commercial bus operators will remain off the road.
The transport strike will remain in force between 6 am and 10 pm. All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and United Front of Transport Associations (UFTA), which comprise over 41 transport unions, are the two main unions representing the commercial fleet operators.
The Delhi Metro and the buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will remain operational. Cluster buses in some areas of Delhi-NCR will also remain operational. The DTC has a fleet of around around 3,796 buses. With autos, cabs and other taxi operators off the road today, the extra rush due to the transport strike will put a heavy burden on both DTC and Delhi Metro.
The UFTA said they resorted to strike both Delhi and the central governments had failed to address their concerns. “We have been seeking redressal of our grievances related to the new MV Act from both the Centre and the Delhi government for the last 15 days, but no solution is there is sight forcing us to go on a one-day strike,” said Shyamlal Gola, General Secretary, UFTA.
He said the newly implemented Motor Vehicle Act had led to corruption and harassment of the public. “The exorbitant and unviable penalties imposed through the amended Motor Vehicle Act 2019 have increased the corruption, high handedness and harassment of vehicle owners and drivers,” he said.
Issues and demands put forward by transport unions
Heavy fines post the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019
Limiting of the insurance firms’ liability in cases of accidents by commercial vehicle
An “irrational” increase in the income tax rates for heavy goods vehicles
Demand for social security schemes for drivers and their families of commercial vehicles.
In a bid to crack the whip on traffic violators across the country, the government had amended the Motor Vehicles Act, which proposed 10-fold increase in fines for various traffic-related violations. Post the imposition of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, from September 1, hefty penalties by police for breaking traffic rules have hit headlines. Some states have already diluted some provisions of the Act and cut the penalties by up to 90 per cent but the Delhi government is yet to take any action in this regard. BJP governments in Gujarat and Uttarakhand have already announced a reduction in fines, while Uttar Pradesh government is mulling reducing the penalties.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier said the new Act would help improve road traffic in Delhi but promised to reduce penalties within the Delhi government’s jurisdiction. But no concrete decision has been taken so far.
Delhi Congress workers led by former Union minister Ajay Maken also protested against the Centre and the AAP government in Delhi on Wednesday over the implementation of the Motor Vehicles Act. Maken said the Kejriwal-led AAP government was maintaining silence over the “anti-people” policies of the Modi government. “People are being harassed by the transport policy of the BJP government at the Centre. Some states including West Bengal, Gujarat and Maharashtra are making changes in the high amount of fines under the amended Motor Vehicle Act,” he said the former president of Delhi Congress. “Why is the Delhi government silent on the new transport policy of the BJP government? Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is not interested in taking any decision in favour of the people of Delhi,” he alleged.