ONLY, JUNE 9TH
The Covid pandemic, which has been forcing transport services off the streets during the Corona curfew and lockdown since March last year, has rung the death bell for private bus companies.
Amid the curfew is a fleet of around 3,500 off-road buses across the state and 900 in the Kangra district alone.
Ravi Dutt Sharma, Kangra District Private Bus Operators Welfare Society, said most private bus operators were in the midst of a drastic financial crisis and some of them had started selling vegetables and doing jobs to support their families.
Sharma said the state government had betrayed private bus companies by giving them hollow assurances for a year. He complained that the government did not even include crew members of the private buses in the recently announced vaccination priority list, despite declaring HRTC employees as Corona warriors. He called on the prime minister to prioritize employees and operators in the private bus transport industry and save this industry, which directly and indirectly created jobs for over 50,000 people across the state.
“The transport companies that have taken out huge bank loans to buy buses are unable to pay for bank EMIs. The government should come up with a policy to save them, ”he said.
Sharma advocated a moratorium on loan payments for at least six months and called for the state government to exempt the special road tax and token tax from August 2020 until the end of the pandemic, as operators could not deposit these taxes as they were already stuck in the debt trap .
He said the government should announce an aid package for operators, bus drivers and conductors so they can support their families.