Reduced fare rates spark opposition

Agartala, Feb 10 : The reduction of fares in trucks, buses and autorickshaws scheduled to take effect from tomorrow is likely to create more trouble than it will solve as the transporters and workers’ unions have refused to accept the government’s decision.
According to the reduction schedule announced by the transport department and transport minister Manik Dey, the fare of autorickshaws is scheduled to go down by Re 1, those of buses and minibuses will be reduced by Rs 4 while long distance buses will have five per cent fare reduction.
An official source here said an increase in petroleum prices had led to fare hikes, touching an 8.5 per cent rise last September. When the petroleum prices came down recently, it led to a demand for reduction in fares.
The transport minister convened a meeting of transport associations at his chamber last week to discuss a possible reduction in fares. Barring Citu, which was lukewarm, other associations, including the Intuc, opposed the proposed climb-down because of the uncertainty in petroleum prices and the losses they incurred earlier.
But the minister was adamant and virtually gave an ultimatum, announcing that the government would take a unilateral decision on the matter.
The conceded that the organised unions were unlikely to toe the government line.
“What we are scared of is that there will be regular tiffs and trouble involving transport workers and passengers and this chaos will be difficult to resolve,” sources in the transport department said.
S.K. Saha, the vice-president of Citu-affiliated Tripura Motor Sramik Union, however, said the government’s decision was “supposed to be complied with” and union members were being instructed to accept the reduced fare rate.