Demanding that the Motor Vehicles Tax be waived off temporarily, around 300 buses and cars were parked in front of the Hyderabad Regional Transport Authority's (RTA) office in Khairatabad. The owners of the vehicles said that they had come to 'surrender' their vehicles as the coronavirus pandemic had brought their livelihood to a halt. The protest caused a huge traffic jam in the area.
The protesting transport operators were demanding that the government exempt them from paying the Motor Vehicle Tax for contract carriage vehicles and maxi cabs for the current quarter (April-June) and next quarter (July-September).
With the pandemic and lockdown, travelling for tourism and marriages has come to a complete halt leaving the transport sector devastated.
Speaking to TNM, State Cabs & Bus Operators Association (TSCBOA) President Syed Nizamuddin said, "From mid-March there is no work due to lockdown. Tourism has declined, and companies are asking employees to work from home. Though we didn't do any business during the last three months, government is wanting us to pay motor vehicle tax."
According to operators, the motorvehicle tax in the state ranges from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000 based on the vehicle capacity be it bus or cab, and is paid on a quarterly basis.
He adds, "The authorities are wanting us to pay for the last three months and for the next quarter (three months) in advance though the situation is not yet normal. How can we pay when there is no business? That's why we came to surrender our vehicles before the concerned transport authorities and demand for an exemption for the period."
The transport operators said that if the government continued to neglect them, around 5 lakh people would be affected.
In a letter to TRS working president K Taraka Ramarao (KTR), TSCBOA said that their representation to the government on March 27 which sought exemption of taxes, deferment of EMI and extension of validity with statutory compliances has not been addressed yet.
They urged that the government should take cue from states like Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan, Puducherry and Kerala and give exemption.
CM Govindaraju from Hyderabad Cab and Taxi Owners Association told TNM, "One vehicle can feed 10 people. With COVID-19, none of us are able to pay the drivers and other staff. We can't even imagine the condition of the driver cum owners. It has become very difficult. Government should either waive off the MV tax or take custody of our vehicles until the situation becomes normal."
The local police cleared the buses and cabs from the road before the RTA office in Khairatabad and detained the owners of the vehicles at different places including in Goshamahal Stadium.