CHENNAI: Motorists and transporters across the city are worried over the spiralling fuel prices that were hiked for the eleventh consecutive day on Wednesday. Auto drivers have spiked the fares by 10 per cent to 15 per cent to meet the operational cost. Transporters and private vehicle owners are distressed over the unreasonable increase.
The petrol price in Chennai on Wednesday stood at `82.52 and diesel at `75.48. The rise has been nearly `3 a litre, in the past few days.
Expressing their anger, commuters demanded the government to bring down the price of petrol by reducing excise duty or through other measures. “Due to inflation, the government keeps fluctuating fuel prices. The public is unable to keep track of the rates that spike daily, and this makes it difficult for us to manage our expenses with fixed monthly income. We can neither opt for autos nor go on our own vehicles,” said R Srinivasan, a resident of T Nagar.
The hike has added to the woes of the already bleeding Metropolitan Transportation Corporation (MTC). R Vasudevan, spokesperson from CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) said that the Corporation is incurring a loss of `7 per bus. “In a move to curb this, the department decided to cut down the number of buses, which led to job cuts. The constant rise in the price of diesel makes life worse for us,” he said.
Lorry operators, who travel at least 400 km a day are also affected.
Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners’ Federation president, S Yuvaraj told CE that nearly 10 lakh lorries in the country have stopped operations due to losses. “Petrol and diesel must also be included in Goods and Service Tax (GST). Also, the previous government gave us subsidies as it would affect the price of essential goods. With subsidy not provided currently, we are in a fix,” he said.
Concurring, A Manimaran, a lorry driver, who transports building materials from various parts of Tamil Nadu to Chennai, said they have been constantly feeling the pinch in the last couple of months because the fuel prices have been inching up steadily. “We are just praying that the prices come down now, otherwise it will affect us badly,” he said.
“Auto drivers have an option to spike fares, but we do not,” grieve cab drivers who recently went on a strike demanding an increase in trip fare owing to increasing fuel fares. “Looks like we have to go on an indefinite strike. Initially, we would at least get a profit of `500 every day, but now, we even end up in loss some days,” said one of the cab drivers seeking anonymity.
He further added that the potholes in the city have added to their woes as bad roads lead to higher consumption of petrol.
Petrol bunk employees expressed that the commuters have been fuming over them for the past ten days, and the sales have reduced by at least 10 per cent. A petrol bunk employee in the suburbs said that often they have to face the music from angry customers.
(Inputs by Dia Rekhi)