VISAKHAPATNAM :Mad rush prevailed at bus stations and railway stations with people struggling to reach their holiday destinations to spend summer holidays, even as the RTC staff complicated matters further by announcing an indefinite strike commencing Wednesday.
The RTC unions including Employees Union and National Mazdoor Union will go on strike demanding 43 per cent fitment besides other demands. As many as 28,000 buses in both the Telugu states will stay off roads until the issue is resolved, the RTC union members said.
More than 1,500 out of 2,000 buses are expected to stay off roads in north Coastal Andhra region from Wednesday morning. The RTC authorities are making alternate arrangements to run a limited number of services with the help of hired staff and buses in the aftermath of the failed talks between the RTC management and union representatives. The RTC staff could not reach a consensus with the management and also with the State Government over payment of 43 per cent fitment on par with the government employees.
The RTC strike would have severe impact on the holiday rush. Ever since the summer vacations for schools and colleges began, passenger rush increased multi-fold in Visakhapatnam and other parts of north Coastal Andhra to destinations like Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. Vizag being a tourist destination, the in-bound passenger rush, too, has doubled.
While the railways introduced over 15 special trains till the first week of July in addition to over 90 services operated via Visakhapatnam railway station, the RTC is operating special buses as well. An additional five AC buses and nine non-AC buses are being operated from the city to Hyderabad every day. On Sunday alone, the RTC operated 11 non-AC buses to Hyderabad along with six buses each to Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Kakinada and other destinations, with all of them running to full capacity.
“All trains and buses are running to the full capacity. Private bus operators, too, are milking money from desperate passengers. A ticket to Hyderabad is being sold for over `1,100 as against `800-`900,” said Sekhar Babu, an accountant. All trains to places like Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and other cities are full for at least another two weeks and tatkal booking is turning out to be an impossible mission.
APSRTC regional manager Y Jagadish Babu said that alternate arrangements are being made to ensure that passengers are not put to trouble. “We will use the services of hired buses, contract and retired staff members. Efforts are on at the higher level to convince the workers to call off the strike,” he added.