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City buses go off the road for 6 hours Tuesday, September 4, 2001
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The week has certainly had an ominous start for Kalpana Shah, a sales representative of a multinational company. She found herself stranded at Lal Darwaja bus stand at 1.25 pm.
Headed towards Chandlodia with a huge bag of goodies slung over her shoulder, Shah was facing a predicament _ no city buses. Shah then turned hopefully towards autorickshaws and was promptly told that going up to Kalupur would cost her Rs 25 instead of the usual fare of Rs 12.
Shah is among thousands of commuters depending on the rickety, old buses of the city who were left stranded on Monday because employees of Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services decided to call a wildcat strike.
The result: all 886 buses (725 to 750 of which are on road) plying on 138 routes, carrying nearly 7 lakh passengers daily and raking in a daily income of 20 lakh, went off the road from 1 pm.
Buses did not return to their daily routes before much politicking and only after the AMTS transport manager, Z.A. Sacha, went on a week's leave from Tuesday.
The issues taken up by the striking AMTS employees were three: that 176 temporary drivers and conductors were asked to discontinue services till called by their employer, food grain allowance due in the month of August was not yet paid and that numerous employees' applications for loan against their Provident Fund (PF) were yet to be honoured.
But, by sun down the issues amalgamated and changed to 'Sacha hatao'. A meeting convened at AMTS' office in Jamalpur the four unions' leaders alleged that the transport manager was autocratic in his dealings and were cause of much problems for them. The municipal commissioner K. Kailashnathan, chairman of AMC's transport committee Surendra Baxi and other senior officials of AMTS were faced with a unique adamance on the unionionists' part.
Kailashanathan later said: "Sacha has volunteered to go on a week's leave. During that period we will deliberate over this matter and try to resolve it amicably."
Sacha, on the other hand, said: "The employees are being misinformed by the union leaders who have an axe to grind against me because I did not comply with their wishes. Payment of food grain allowance was always slated for September 9 and 10. Where I have asked assistance worth Rs 1.4 crore for food grains and 3.82 crore for clearance of various bills and expenditures from the AMC nothing has been forthcoming since February."
Sacha added: "I have taken this leave for the interest of commuters at large. But, if my absence solves this problem then I may go off on an even longer leave (one stretching over four months) from September 15."
This muscle-flexing of the unionists, that had left life partly paralysed in the city, has however got a definite political flavour. According to the municipal transport committee chairman, Baxi, "Dinkar Bhatt who is leading the Ahmedabad municipal servants' association both in the AMTS issue and the safai kamdaar issue is a BJP man. This is a well though-out effort to paint the Congress leadership at AMC in a poor picture and trouble commoners' into an anti-Congress feeling. We have dealt with both the issues with alacrity and our political opponents have failed."
Not entirely though! Ask Upendra Shah of Ranip: "I had some urgent business at Art Gallery in Ranip. I could not reach there due to this political strike. Essential services, even if hit for a few hours, can wreck havoc in commoners' lives and literally translate into heavy losses for small time businessmen."
News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]