The Interstate Bus Owners Association (IBOA) in Kerala has called off its week-long strike following discussions with government officials. Bus owners began the strike on June 24 protesting against high fines imposed by Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) on private interstate buses plying to and from Kerala.
The government level discussion regarding the strike was held on Monday. Representatives of IBOA, Transport Secretary and other officials of MVD took part in the meeting. Though officials had agreed to look into the steep fines being levied on the buses, âOperation Night Ridersâ which was kickstarted following untoward incidents in private interstate buses has not been called off.
Operation Night Rider was launched in April following the untoward incident, where two passengers were brutally beaten up by staff in the Kallada Travels bus. Through the operation, MVD aim to keep a track on interstate private buses by monitoring whether buses are abiding by the rules. MVD has also been monitoring ticket booking agencies of the interstate buses. Round the clock squads were also formed by MVD for this in all the districts.
âWe donât have a problem with the MVD continuing Operation Night Riders, our only issue was officials charging the buses hefty amount as fine for certain permit issues. But after explaining how things are working in other states, MVD has agreed to relook that,â Rijas AJ, secretary of IBOA told TNM.
The bus owners had earlier alleged that MVD levied a fine of Rs 10,000 for taking in passengers, who had not booked beforehand. âWe are supposed to send the list of passengers to MVD, 15 minutes before a bus starts it service. And if we take in passengers who are not in this list, the officials used to charge us hefty amounts as fine during the checks. We have provided some documents of court orders from across the country, where rulings in such cases has been in support of the bus owners. MVD has said they will consider this,â said Rijas.
With the government promising to look into the issue of steep fines, the association has given directions to bus owners that they can start services back to normal. âThis is the only thing that we had demanded, since that is achieved, we are resuming services,â said Manoj Padikkal, president of IBOA.
In a move to aid passengers, the association has also decided to start a common passenger redressal forum. âThis will be a common forum under IBOA and it will meet once in every month. If we find the grievances raised by passengers to be genuine, we will take action against whomsoever concerned,â added Rijas.