J&K transporters to observe Chakka Jam on Wednesday

Transport bodies operating from Kashmir and Jammu divisions have called for a one-day strike on Wednesday, June 12 against levy of toll tax on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

Transporters said the strike would be also observed against recent government order asking them to install hi-tech systems such as vehicle location tracking devices and panic buttons in their vehicles. 

Sheikh Muhammd Yusuf, general secretary, Kashmir Transporters Welfare Association told Greater Kashmir that long pending demands also include speedy renewals and document verification with transport department.

Transporters operating buses, min-buses, Tata Sumos, auto rickshaws and all other commercial vehicles in the state are participating in the strike, Yusuf said.

“Exorbitant one way toll charges of Rs 285 for an inter-district bus on national highway is proving to be a burden. Transport sector has been suffering huge losses in the Valley and now administration wants us to install hi-tech gadgets in our vehicles which cost almost Rs 20,000 is a burden on us,” said Yusuf adding transport department order asking transporters to be equipped with hi-tech gadgets is “illogical” as many of these are old vehicles and will be soon phased-out.

TS Wazir, chairman, Transporters Welfare Association Jammu also confirmed that transporters of Jammu division will be observing the one-day strike on Wednesday.

“We have genuine demands for which the strike is being observed. First we will observe chakka jam on Wednesday and if the demands are not fulfilled then we will go for indefinite strike,” Wazir said. 

As per transporters, operational glitches in the online system at Regional Transport Office are proving to be time consuming for various official works.

“With the online system there are lot of problems in permit renewal, renewal of all documents of commercial vehicles. Lack of staff in transport department is also proving to be a hurdle for smooth functioning of transport sector in the state,” said the transporter Sheikh Yusuf. .

Local transporters say Kashmir-based vehicles are unnecessarily stopped by traffic authorities at Leh and are not even allowed to do local sightseeing there. “Another long pending demand of transporters has been that transporters who suffered losses in 2014 floods will be compensated but that has not been fulfilled so far,” said Yusuf.

He said transporters were also upset with the inability of the traffic authorities to control the operations of “illegal and unregistered Tata Sumos” from erstwhile Batamaloo bus stand that causes traffic congestion in commercial hub of Srinagar.

The protesting transporters have also been complaining that high frequency of railways has caused them huge losses and have been demanding that train trips between Baramulla to Banihal be reduced. “Keeping in view the interest of transporters, train trips between Jammu – Katra has been reduced while as we have 8 train trips between Baramulla – Banihal daily which must be curtailed to allow transporters earn their livelihood properly,” demanded a statement issued by Kashmir Transporters Welfare Association.