Autorickshaws strike hits Mumbai hard

Mumbai, June 17 (IANS) Over a million commuters, office-goers and students were hit badly as around 20,000 autorickshaws went off the roads Wednesday in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai to press for their demands of banning radio taxis and having a social welfare scheme.

This is the second time in two days that Mumbai commuters have been hit after Tuesday’s strike by a section of taxi-drivers union led by Nitesh Rane.

Wednesday’s strike saw many people either walking down to the nearest railway stations, awaiting the overcrowded BEST or ST buses, using private vehicles or two-wheelers.

Braving rains in many parts, passengers at the airport here as well as at the rail terminals in various places in the city had a harrowing time.

The strike, in which Shiv Sena and the taxi-men’s unions are not taking part, led to a spurt in demand for various private and radio taxi services. Ironically, one of demands of the autorickshaw drivers is the a ban on these radio taxis.

Mumbai Autorickshawmens Union chief Shashank Rao said the government is responsible for the inconvenience to the citizens and it is now a matter of the autorickshawmen’s survival.

“Private taxis, tourist vehicles and call centre cars ferry people to various areas in the suburbs, hitting us badly. Besides, other cabs like Ola and Uber ply beyond their jurisdiction affecting us,” Rao told mediapersons.

He warned of more such agitations in future if the government fails to accede to their demands.

Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said that the government has taken note of their demands and they would consider them.

Besides, the other demands are a social welfare scheme for autorickawmen, status of ‘public servant’ to them, issuing rickshaw permits quickly to those on waiting lists and so on.

Meanwhile, the BEST had deployed additional services on major routes, the state transport has diverted 100 buses for the city and private taxis have also increased their operations to tackle the commuters rush.

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