Thiruvananthapuram: Commuters in Kerala were in for a harrowing time on Tuesday as public transport, including buses and autorickshaws, stayed off the roads during an all-India motor vehicle strike.
Even all workshops and spare parts shops have remained closed, turning it into a total shutdown. Barring the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), all the other trade unions are taking part in the 24-hour protest called by the All-India Co-ordination Committee of Road Transport Workers Organisations against the proposed Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2017. This is the second all-India strike being held against certain provisions in the amendment bill.
Along with public transport vehicles, school buses, goods carriers, autorickshaws, and taxis also kept off the roads.
Private vehicles, however, were seen plying. Students' attendance at almost all educational intuitions was practically nil, even though it was not an official holiday. Even teachers' attendances was also very low. Offices too reported low attendance
People were stranded at railway stations and bus stands across the state. Police officers tried to ensure transport for patients in need of emergencies.
Minor skirmishes were reported between protesters and drivers of taxis and autorickshaws. There were also reports of strike supporters stopping vehicles in some parts of the state, including Kasaragod.
Meanwhile, a collective of trade unions of KSRTC employees began a 24-hour strike from Monday midnight. Left-affiliated CITU, Congress's INTUC, CPI's AITUC and Drivers' Union took part in the strike. The protesters have raised several demands, including wage hike and payment of dues in dearness allowance.
Mahatma Gandhi, Kannur and Calicut universities have postponed all examinations scheduled for Tuesday. The Kerala University of Health Sciences has also postponed all theory exams. New dates will be announced later.
The bill seeks to bring a slew of radical reforms in the transport sector by ensuring 100 per cent e-governance, checking bogus driving licences and vehicle thefts, slapping a heavy penalty on traffic violators and protecting the good Samaritan, among other things.
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