Auto-rickshaw drivers in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat observed a 12-hour long strike on October 3. Around 2.20 lakh drivers stood in line to register their protest against multiple issues. This includes the hike in the penalty for traffic violations under the new Motor Vehicle Act. Even though the 12-hour strike ended at 6:00 pm, the union leaders further held a meeting with the Government officials in Gandhinagar in order to seek redressal for their grievances. The autorickshaw drivers further demanded an assurance that their issues would be solved with a just resolution in regards to the matter.
The union leaders held a meeting with the Government officials to formulate a plan for the future. After the meeting, Ashok Punjabi, President of the Gujarat Auto Rickshaw Drivers Action Committee stated that the drivers would go on an indefinite strike if the Government fails to come up with a just solution in the next ten days. He added that the auto-rickshaw drivers belong from poverty-stricken families. As a consequence, they are incapable of paying such fines introduced under the new Motor Vehicle Act.
'Penalties collected under the new Motor Vehicle Act are atrocious. Poor auto drivers can not afford to pay such hefty fines as most of them are living below poverty line and already finding it hard to make both ends meet,' Ashok Punjabi said in a statement.
'We have asked the government to exempt auto drivers from paying the revised fines,' added Punjabi, a Congress leader. 'For 2.20 lakh autos running in the city, stands are available for only 23,000 autos. We want the government to build more stands. Since the vehicle insurance amount has doubled during the last couple of years, we want the government to give 50% subsidy on it,' he said in conclusion.
The Congress leader warned that if a viable solution does not come up in the next couple of days, the auto-rickshaw drivers might end up on a strike for an unspecified amount of time. After the delegation led by Punjabi, Rajesh Manjhu, Transport Commissioner, stated that the Government will try to resolve the problems raised by the auto drivers. Furthermore, he added that coordination is needed between all the departments. In conclusion, he asserted that efforts are ongoing to ensure that the grievances of the auto-rickshaw drivers come to an end.