VIJAYAWADA:The Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS) in the city, which bustles with travellers round-the-clock, wore a deserted look on Wednesday following the strike being observed by the RTC employees, who had been demanding for 43 per cent fitment.
The bus station, one of the largest in Asia and a nerve centre for bus connectivity across the state and neighbouring states, by virtue of its location, suffered a loss of Rs 1.5 crore by the end of the first day of strike.
As many as 1,350 buses operated on 350 different routes went off the roads leaving people in distress. On an average, the PNBS witnesses near about 1 lakh commuters per day. The figures are relatively more during weekends and festivals.
With buses bound for various destinations and those scheduled to arrive in the city from various places going off road, several people at the bus station were caught off guard.
As he went to the counter to cancel his ticket, he was asked to wait till he received an SMS stating that the bus was cancelled. He waited patiently for the message to come while discussing alternate arrangements with his wife and daughter.
Karimulla from Bandar, who was in city to attend a wedding, had to return home, but found no local bus available. However, not everyone was as lucky as Karimulla and had to wait in the bus station for the RTC management to make some arrangements.
Higher officials at PNBS were busy making alternative arrangements. Though they have sought to temporarily recruit those with heavy vehicle driving licences as drivers by paying Rs 1,000 per day and those with SSC qualification by paying Rs 800 per day, it is proving to be difficult, as the striking employees who were staging protest demonstrations at the bus depots were dead against it.
Some of the striking staff spoke to the several unemployed youth including women at PNBS with their certificates and asked them not to join.
APSRTC Krishna regional manager G Sudesh Kumar said that it was not easy to appoint staff on temporary basis.
“We have to ensure that they can drive. Simply having a driving licence is not enough. After all, thousands of people travel in those buses. We hope that the situation gets resolved at the earliest. Meanwhile, we are making our best efforts to find alternate solutions,” he said.
Heavy Rush at Railway Station
On the other hand, Vijayawada railway station witnessed a heavy rush. Almost all the trains were overcrowded, as people squeezed into whatever little space they got in the train. Many of those bound for places like Hyderabad, Bangalore and other distant places, were ready to pay fines to travel in sleeper classes, with no space available in general compartments.
Autos, Pvt Vehicles Have a Field Day
Those going to places within the district or neighbouring Guntur and West Godavari districts, boarded whatever vehicle they could convince to transport them for payment. With high demand, autowallahs and private bus operators had a field day charging high prices.