Srinagar: Maintaining social distance, private transport operators in Kashmir on Thursday staged a demonstration at Parimpora bus stand to seek relief for losses suffered due to past 10 months of lockdown and permission to resume their services.
The operators said they had been the worst hit by the prolonged lockdown and urged the J&K Government to provide financial assistance to the community which has been struggling to survive.
The demonstrators held up placards and raised slogans against the authorities for neglecting them over the years.
Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf, general secretary of Kashmir Transport Welfare Association (KTWA), told Kashmir Reader that the government was neglecting private transporters.
“Nobody is even talking about us .The government of India announced a mega Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package but transporters in Kashmir did not get anything. Such is the situation that transporters are using their vehicles for selling fruits and vegetables,” Yousuf said.
He added, “On the one hand public transport is barred and on the other hand the transport department has ordered restarting of SRTC buses for inter- district movement. If the buses can follow the SOPs, why not we?”
He also demanded that the government waive off late fees and penalty fines on all kinds of renewal and documentation of papers.
Bashir Ahmad Khan, chairman of Harmukh transport company Ganderbal, said, “If JKSTRC buses can follow SOPs, private transporters can do that as well. This discrimination is a direct attack on the livelihood of thousands of public transporters and the government should also allow them to operate.”
Khan assured that the private operators would follow all the SOPs advised by the government.
Shabir Ahmad, a transport operator from south Kashmir, said that the authorities must provide compensation to transport operators who have suffered huge losses.
“They must extend the validity of insurance of all types of commercial vehicles for ten months, so that by then we are able to earn something,” he said.
The transporters also demanded roll back of the vehicle tax hike and levy of surcharge on petrol and diesel.
“Our vehicles are standing idle for many months. We don’t even have money to repair battery and spare parts. We are suffering more each day,” Ahmad said.