Private transport operators, including Ola and Uber, call off strike in Bengaluru

Out of the 30 demands made by the association, the transport minister said he agreed to fulfill 27 barring those related to the 'Shakti' scheme, monthly grants to auto drivers, and exemption of life tax on vehicles costing between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

Private transport operators, including Ola and Uber, call off strike in Bengaluru

Monday September 11, 2023,

5 min Read

After assurance from Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy that most of their demands would be fulfilled, the Federation of the Karnataka State Private Transport Associations called off the day-long strike in the city on Monday afternoon. 

Out of the 30 demands made by the Federation, the Minister said he has agreed to fulfill 27 barring those related to the 'Shakti' scheme, monthly grants to auto drivers, and exemption of life tax on vehicles costing between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

Earlier on Monday, normal life was affected owing to bandh' as commuters, officegoers and students faced inconvenience in getting auto rickshaws and cabs to their destinations. 

Though a traffic advisory was issued by the Bengaluru Traffic Police, vehicular movement was affected in many parts of the city due to the protest march carried out by the members of the Federation from the city's Majestic area to Freedom Park this morning. 

The Federation comprises a total of 32 private transport associations. Reddy met the members of the Federation at Freedom Park and assured them that out of the 30 demands, he would fulfill 27. 

Talking to reporters, the Minister said the government will try to meet all the demands of the private transport association. Explaining about the 30 demands submitted by the Federation, Reddy said two of them are with regard to the government's Shakti scheme and another on the tax issue and another four demands which they have raised are in court. 

"We have to appoint a lawyer to fight in the court to get the stay. Other demand is with regards to the financial cover (the losses they have faced) that CM has to decide. They have asked for a separate transportation board, and they are demanding an Indira Canteen in the airport, they demanded for loan facilities for the private taxi owners, other demands are on the app-based cab service Ola and Uber.. The case is still pending in the court", he said. 

Speaking to PTI, Reddy said out of the 30 demands, he has agreed to fulfill 27 but he will need some time to meet some of the demands. 

"... some of the matters need amendments in the assembly while some matters are pending in court. I want to help them," he said. 

Meanwhile, Nataraj Sharma, President of the Federation, said they have called off the strike after the Minister addressed the protesters and assured them to meet most of their demands. 

"We have called off the strike after we received assurance from the Transport Minister ... Three demands which are yet to be cleared are related to the finance ministry, for which the Transport Minister said he will set up a delegation and see if those demands can be met or not," Sharma told PTI. 

However, if a written assurance is not granted by Tuesday evening, the Federation has warned the government to sit on a hunger strike in front of the Transport department from Wednesday onwards. 

"The transport minister told us that the proceedings of the demands submitted will be passed by today (Monday) and we will be given a copy of the proceedings by tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. However, if we do not get the written copy by the specified time, then we will go on a hunger strike in front of the Transport Department office from Wednesday", he said. 

Stone pelting incidents reported

According to police, there were incidents of stone pelting in some areas. Attempts were also made to forcefully stop bike taxis, auto rickshaws and cabs that were operating, ignoring the bandh' call. There were instances where bike taxis were primarily targeted as a ban on them was one of the key demands. 

Responding to such incidents, Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda said there have been incidents in some places where people were manhandled and assaulted and some (protesters) even indulged in stone pelting. 

"We have told our officers to register cases if anybody comes forward to give complaints and we will investigate based on CCTV clippings and crowd-sourced videos and they will be arrested and cases will be booked against them," he told PTI

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that some of the demands by private transporters', are "impossible demands" and cannot be met.

"In a democracy, we cannot put restrictions on bandhs and protests. They are the essence of democracy but they should be held peacefully that's all," he said in response to a question on private transporters' bandh in Bengaluru.

Speaking to reporters in Mysuru, the CM said he and the Transport Minister have heard their demands, "but if they keep impossible demands, it cannot be met."

"We have implemented Shakti scheme (free transport for women in public transport buses), they are saying that -- they are facing problems because of it, as women are not going to private buses -- and so are asking the government to bear those losses, can that be done? It is practically not possible, the scheme is for the benefit of women," he said, adding that whether they are facing loss or not is a different matter.

The Federation had called for a bandh seeking a ban on bike taxis, and urging the government to extend the Shakti scheme -- that offers free bus rides to women on state-run transport buses -- to private buses as well, among other demands.

The private transporters have claimed that they have been negatively impacted by the Shakti scheme and that the state government has not fulfilled their demands despite repeated discussions.

Edited by Suman Singh