Private buses went off the roads on Thursday putting hundreds of commuters to hardship in Ponda taluka, as bus operators protested the norm of 50 per cent passenger capacity imposed to maintain social distancing in buses in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bus operators urged the government to release the pending dues on subsidies for fuel, insurance and replacement of old buses.
They threatened to continue with their protest until their demands are met.
The private bus operators had resumed operations some 15 days back upon the relaxation of the nationwide lockdown and the government’s assurance on releasing the pending dues.
The guidelines issued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic stipulate that bus operators must ply buses only with 50 per cent passenger capacity so as to maintain social distancing in buses.
However, bus owners are finding it difficult to follow the ‘unviable norm’.
Goa State Bus Owners Association secretary Siddesh Adpaikar said operating buses with just 50 per cent passenger capacity is not viable, and they are incurring losses in running the services.
Moreover passengers are not supporting the bus operators to adhere to the COVID guidelines, as some travellers are manhandling conductors for not allowing them to get on the buses.
If the bus conductors allow more people in buses some people complain to the transport authorities, who penalise the buses for violating the social distancing norm.
The government has not kept its word on releasing the pending dues on
subsidies for fuel, insurance and replacement of old buses, forcing the bus operators to go off the roads, Adpaikar explained.
The private buses originating from Ponda and coming to Ponda from other towns stopped operations on Thursday, putting commuters to great hardship.
However, KTCL buses were plying but their services did not reach out to all people, locals said.
In the morning, some private bus operators stopped a KTC bus operating on the Ponda-Panaji route for not following the norm on the 50 per cent passenger capacity, throwing social distancing in the winds.