Autorickshaw operators stage dharna

The Udupi, Kundapur and Brahmavar taluk units of Autorickshaw and Vehicle Operators’ Association, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Tuesday demanding the withdrawal of Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Addressing the protesters, Balakrishna Shetty, secretary, district unit, Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the Bill would hit the poor autorickshaw and taxi drivers hard. It had stern provisions for jumping signals or not giving way to ambulances. Nearly 90% of the autorickshaw and taxi drivers had purchased their vehicles through loans from private finance companies and had become self employed. But increasing competition, rise in prices of spare parts and fuel, imposition of various kinds of fines had led to a decline in their earnings. The autorickshaw and taxi drivers did not enjoy ESI, Provident Fund or any other social security benefits.

The diesel fare had increased by Rs. 12 in the last four years. Even the insurance premium had increased by 100%. The toll fares on highways too had increased. When the autorickshaw and taxi operators were already facing such a huge burden, the Union government had decided to take them to a breaking point through its stern provisions in the Bill.

The operators would be forced to do testing by paying double the amount to get Fitness Certificates at the testing stations run by private companies. But these stations might start harassing the operators.

The stated intention of the Bill was to increase road safety and reduce accidents. But it had more provisions for imposition of fines than safety measures. Hence, the Union government should withdraw the Bill, Mr. Shetty said.

Laxman Shetty, Ramesh, V. Chandra, Uday, Sadashiva Poojary, autorickshaw association leaders, were present. The protesters later submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister at the Deputy Commissioner’s Office.

‘No response’

Meanwhile, the nationwide motor-vehicles strike call given by transport unions to protest against the Bill evoked no response in Udupi district as all vehicles including private and government buses and autorickshwas plied as usual.

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