Transport Minister Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar on Wednesday warned taxi drivers of strict action, including withdrawal of all benefits and subsidies, if they go ahead with the proposed strike on January 19.
Cabbies have called a daylong statewide strike on Friday to protest the government insistence on installation of speed-limiting devices and fare meters onto their taxis.
The taxi operators are also protesting against government’s failure to rein in private vehicle owners who operate as cabbies.
Addressing a press conference in the presence of inspector-general of police Jaspal Singh here on Wednesday, Dhavalikar said the government machinery has taken up necessary measures to thwart cabbies from harassing and inconveniencing the people during the strike.
The government will allow private vehicles to ferry passengers.
Moreover at least 80 cranes will be kept at four locations to lift taxis if they are used to blockade the road.
Calling the proposed strike as illegal and uncalled for, the minister said, “If they (cabbies) have any complaints they can come through proper channels for redressal.
But going on a sudden strike to blackmail the administration is not the way.”
The IGP said that at no cost taxi operators will be allowed to resort to acts of vandalism and road blockade, adding that they will deploy more police personnel at the identified locations.
When asked whether measures have been taken to avoid inconveniences to passengers, Dhavalikar said the transport department will press 350 additional buses into service at bus stands and railway stations to handle the crowd. The government will also allow private vehicle owners to ferry passengers.
The government has been insistent on installation of GPS meters and speed governors in all public transport vehicles, and now decided not to issue fitness certificates to the vehicles which are not fitted with the abovementioned devices.
“We have helped them enough by not allowing private cab service providers to enter the state and also gave sufficient time of six years to install fare meters and another two years to install speed governors on their taxis. But still they are not satisfied. I request them to withdraw the strike or face action,” Dhavalikar asserted.
Cabbies have demanded that the installation of speed governors should be made mandatory for all vehicles, including private cars, arguing that only tourist taxis cannot be held responsible for road accidents in the coastal state.