The 48-hour state-wide ‘chakka bandh’ called by the Asom Motor Works Association (AMWA) on March 28 and 29 has caused immense hindrance in Guwahati in Assam with commuters having to wait for long durations to board a public transport.
With most city buses and other public transport keeping off the roads, commuters has no other option than to board auto rickshaws and paid taxi services to commute, which are usually costly.
The AMWA had called the 48-hour strike in protest against the Assam government’s failure to provide financial assistance to the owners and staff of commercial vehicles to bail them out of the economic loss they had reportedly been facing during the past two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The association also claimed that the state government was harassing them.
The busy city roads, which are usually clogged with traffic, were mostly empty during these two days.
“I commute to office by the city bus; however, today I had to wait for almost half an hour before I could board an e-rickshaw. When there is a chakka bandh, the Assam State Transport Corporation should operate more city buses in different routes to make commuting easier for the public,” said Manish Singh, a resident of Birubari area in the city.
“With no public transport available, I had to travel to my workplace in Uber cabs. I paid almost Rs 200 per trip. Usually I pay about Rs 30-40 on a single trip in city buses. Although this is a waste of money, I have no option,” said Mrinal Sen, a resident of Dispur.
Very few city buses and public vans or ‘Magics’ as they are locally known could be seen ferrying passengers to different destinations, probably because their owners were worried about the loss of income during the strike.
“I did not run my e-rickshaw on the first day of the strike, but I decided to carry passengers today as it leads to a loss of income,” said Bipul Deka, an e-rickshaw owner.
“During the lockdown we had to incur a huge financial loss. Now the state government has suspended all restrictions and I do not want to lose passengers. No one knows what shape the future is going to take,” Deka said.