Private operators stop plying buses on Ponda roads

Ponda: Some passengers were left stranded on Thursday after few private buses operating in Ponda remained off-the-road as the operators claimed that they were running into losses of around Rs 2,000 daily for the last fortnight by following social distancing norms.

Addressing media persons, private bus operators said it was not affordable to them to continue with their business and alleged that some KTC buses were allowed to ply with two passengers on one seat.

Around 20 private bus operators said operating buses with 50 percent passengers with social distancing is not affordable to them. They claimed to have suffered losses for past fifteen days.

The operators appeared to be in no mood to carry on with the services as they claimed that each day they suffered loss of around Rs 2,000 on account of running buses with 50 per cent passengers. The bus owners said they are ready to meet the government to find out a solution to the issue.

Ponda Bus Owners’ Association president Nitin Gobre along with several bus owners said that since two months of lockdown they have no business.

Earlier, following discussions with Minister Nilesh Cabral, around 20 bus operators had commenced their business a fortnight ago. However, they claimed to be incurring losses of around Rs 2,000 each day as they were operating buses from Ponda bus stand to various towns and the interiors of Ponda.

They further claimed to have commenced their business by paying half salaries to conductors and drivers and added that the locals were clicking photos if some passengers in buses were found not maintaining social distancing.

“They are also posting pictures on social media for action due to which we are scared to operate buses. If we don’t allow entry to passengers then we will face complaints, the bus operators said.

“Finally, we will end up paying hefty fines in case of complaints. Considering the hike in diesel rates, this business is not affordable. Some are yet to clear loan instalments. One seat per passenger and with no people standing is not possible for us. If the government wants private bus owners to operate the buses then it should have a discussion with us and solve the issue amicably,” they demanded. [H]