GUWAHATI, March 5 - City bus services were today disrupted in most parts of the city with some drivers and handymen staying off the roads in protest against the rules recently introduced by the district transport department. The protest follows yesterday�s crackdown launched by the transport department on city buses not following the fresh rules, during which 11 city buses were seized.
The All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA) said drivers and handymen of about 600 city buses joined today�s protest. �At present, about 800 city buses are plying in Guwahati, and of them 600 have membership of our association. Today, as per information available, the rest around 200 buses did ply in some parts of the city, but, overall, the bus services remained paralysed throughout the day,� AAMTA secretary general Pradip Das said.
As per the new rules formulated by the transport department, city buses will have to display the photograph of the driver bearing the countersignature and seal of the office-bearer of the respective association on the left of the windshield, which must also be visible from 22 metres away.
�Some media reports have unfortunately alleged that city buses have violated the new rules, which is not true. The district transport department formulated the new rules on February 22 last, but we haven�t yet received any notice. Later, when we came to know about the new rules, we met transport department officials on February 28 and sought some time to go through the rules. But, the department suddenly carried out the drive on Monday and seized some buses,� Das alleged.
He said more than 800 persons will become unemployed if the city bus owners stop engaging handymen in their vehicles.
Commenting on the bus workers� strike, Bapan Kalita, a senior official of the district transport department, Kamrup Metro, said, �We will definitely enforce the new rules. Before formulating them we had met with the Association office-bearers on a number of occasions and requested them to put forward some recommendations, too. But, the response from their side was not very forthcoming. These new rules, formulated with the passengers� welfare in mind, may cut down city bus owners� profit to some extent, and hence the protest by their employees.�
He said the department cares for the safety of bus passengers. Regarding the new rules making some city bus employees jobless, Kalita said, �City bus handymen are daily wagers. No bus owner has employed them by issuing appointment letters. So, the issue of job loss is irrelevant.�