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37 buses damaged in stone-throwing

Bangaluru: While it was business as usual in the city, transport services were crippled by the nationwide strike on Thursday.

The strike saw around 25 Bangaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses and 12 Karnataka State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses being damaged in stone-throwing on Hosur Road, Mysuru Road, Richmond Town, Anekal, and other parts. Police officials suspected the attacks to be a strategy by those on strike to ensure withdrawal of services — a tactic that seemed to have worked.

Numerous transport unions extended support to the strike called against some provisions of the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014 — in particular, the steep fines proposed and the “focus on privatisation” for public-run corporations.

A majority of the 6,500 BMTC buses, which ply an average of 50 lakh people daily, were off the road. Though many drivers showed up for work, there was visible fear in plying the buses.

At the deserted Kempegowda Bus Station, depot managers attempted to ferry the burgeoning passenger crowd through buses that were returning to their home depots across the city. For most of the day, buses plied on an average just once an hour.

A few buses operated during the day, and many were given police protection up to the outskirts of the city.

“In the first half of the day, our operations were limited to around 10 per cent of the fleet… We may have suffered about Rs. 5-crore loss due to the strike,” said KSRTC Chairman Rajender Kumar Kataria.

The overall loss of revenue for all road transport corporations in the State is expected to exceed Rs. 10 crore.

Not all autorickshaw drivers took part in the strike. The lack of public transport saw charges for rides go up drastically, with “fear of damage” justifying the hikes. “We have our own personal problems, we have to pay rent and feed our families. We cannot give up even one day of business,” said Manju C.N., an autorickshaw driver.

The KSRTC prepaid counter and pre-paid autorickshaw counter at the city railway station remained closed for most of the day.
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