THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Private bus operators have decided to go ahead with the strike tomorrow, on October 31. This decision was confirmed after Transport Minister Antony Raju refused to accept their demands. The Bus Owners Association, the Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation (KSPBOF), criticized the lack of initiative on the part of the minister to discuss the issue.
“We demand an increase in students’ ticket fare and the reinstatement of the bus permits taken away from us. The minister is silent on both of these issues. Instead of discussing our demands, he tried to divert the topic to seat belts and Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras installed on Kerala roads,” said T. Gopinathan, the general convener of KSPBOF.
The association stated that bus owners have been demanding an increase in students’ ticket fares since March 24, 2021. The rate was last fixed in 2012 and is still in effect, according to one of the members. KSPBOF members also stated that they are not against seat belts and AI camera systems in Kerala. However, before making seat belts mandatory, the government should consider the practical aspects. Without addressing the practical issues of seat belts, the government should extend the time for bus owners.
Practically, it may not always be possible to insist that front-seat passengers wear seat belts. If they refuse to do so, it will not be feasible for us to pay a fine to the Motor Vehicle Department,” said Gopinathan. In this situation, private buses in Kerala will observe a strike as a protest against the Kerala government tomorrow.