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Commuters heave a sigh of relief

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Residents of Kochi and those commuting to the city daily heaved a sigh of relief with the four-day private bus operators' stir ended on Saturday afternoon.

A few private buses began operating services as soon as the strike ended. Harried commuters, during the bus strike, were using all available modes of transport to reach their destinations. Bus services are expected to return to normality by Sunday morning.

Demands

However, bus operators have said that they would not go back on their demands. "We have stated our willingness to wait for two more months to reach a settlement on the issue. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has promised to look into our demands. Our major demands are limiting the contribution towards the welfare fund from four employees to two, restriction on permits and reduction of sales tax on diesel which is now 24 per cent," said M.B. Satyan, president of the Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators' Association.

"We are against raising the fares," said Nissar Karukapadath, president of the Vytilla Circular Bus Owners Association. "This is because as soon as the fare is hiked, people begin taking out their two-wheelers. By reducing the sales tax on diesel, we will be able to cover the increase in operation expenses due to increase in price of spare parts and the frequent hike in taxes," he said.

Meeting

The State meeting of the Kerala Private Motor Thozhilali Federation (AITUC) will be held in Kochi on Monday. "We will chalk out the future course of action on issues such as welfare fund," said Joy Joseph, general secretary of the Ernakulam District Private Bus Thozhilali Federation (AITUC).

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