KOZHIKODE: The ongoing strike by the private bus operators in the state will continue after the mediatory talks convened by Transport Minister A K Saseendran here on Sunday failed to arrive at a consensus.
The nearly two-and-a-half hour-long dialogue at the Government Guest House failed to break the deadlock after the minister flatly refused the transporters’ demand to hike the students’ concession rate by 25 per cent and increase the minimum charge for students from `1 to `2. Seven leaders representing 12 organisations of private bus operators attended the meeting.
Interestingly, the bus operators settled for the revised minimum charge of `8 for ordinary passengers after backing down from the earlier demand to fix the minimum fare at `10. Minister Saseendran later told reporters neither the minimum charge of students nor their concession rate could be hiked. “The government has already increased the bus fare and minimum charge for regular passengers.
Consequently, there will be a hike in the students’ concession also. Hence, it is not possible to further increase the concession rate of students,” he said.According to the Transport Minister, all possible steps will be taken to minimise the inconvenience caused to the travelling public on account of the protest.
Bus operators defiant
The private bus owners made it clear the strike will be called off only if the government agrees to the demand to hike students’ concession rate as per the recommendations of the Justice Ramachandran Nair Committee report. “The report is unambiguous the students’ concession rate should be fixed at 25 pc of the total fare. It suggested students aged above 24 should not be provided concession. But both the suggestions were not accepted by the government,” said T Gopinath, All Kerala Private Bus Oper-ators’ Organisation general secretary.