Pvt transporters announce suspension of services in J&K

Jammu: Private transporters on Wednesday announced the suspension of tanker and truck services in Jammu and Kashmir but said their doors are open if the Union Territory administration is interested in addressing their genuine demands through negotiations.

They also said that the government would be responsible for any shortage of essential commodities as most of these tankers and trucks are

engaged in transportation of essential supplies.

The agitating transporters, who among other things are seeking an economic package for the industry to overcome the coronavirus-driven crisis, also expressed displeasure over the government move to increase the road or token tax on the old vehicles registered before August 3, 2019 with the concerned transport authorities.

“Jammu and Kashmir has received a new gift in the shape of double token tax at a time of COVID crisis after the recent increase in rate of tax on sale of petrol and diesel, while no attention is paid on our genuine demands.

“As a mark of protest, we are stopping our tanker and truck service from tomorrow (Thursday). The government should be held responsible if there is any shortage of the essential commodities,” Chairman of All J&K Transport Welfare Association (AJKTWA) T S Wazir told reporters here.

Wazir, who led a strong protest demonstration for the second straight day here, accused the administration of forcing them on the roads and said we have kept our doors open for negotiations .

Besides the relief package for the drivers, cleaners and other allied workers of the transport industry badly affected by the lockdown, the association is demanding among other things a revision in passenger fare, freight charges to the extent of at least 50 per cent, waiving interest of the loans taken by transporters for vehicles and waiving insurance and other fees during the lockdown period besides withdrawing of toll plazas in J&K. The Jammu and Kashmir government increased the rate of tax on sale of petrol and diesel in the Union Territory by Rs 2 per litre and Rs 1 per litre, respectively. The new rates came into effect from June 1.

“When the Centre bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs, an assurance was given that all the benefits under UT status will be given but unfortunately nothing of the sort had happened so far. The other UT does not pay passenger tax and there were also no toll plaza’s. We are being strangled here,” Wazir said.

The association went on a chain hunger strike near Tawi bridge here on Tuesday but were physically lifted by police citing violation of lockdown guidelines.

We do not want any law and order problem or confrontation with the administration which is pushing us towards the wall. If our demands are not met, we will bring all our vehicles on the roads and start torching them one by one as a mark of protest after the expiry of three days’ deadline,” Wazir said.

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