Bhubaneswar: Drivers and other staff of private buses across the state on Monday took to streets demanding compensation for the losses incurred due to COVID-19 lockdown. They also demanded insurance coverage of Rs 50 lakh.
Thousands of bus drivers, conductors and helpers under the banner of Odisha Motor Vehicle Drivers’ Association staged demonstrations across the state affecting vehicular movements. In Bhubaneswar, Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray joined the protest and sat on dharna at Baramunda Bus Stand to support them.
When asked Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said demands of the association are valid. “There should be insurance for bus drivers and other staff. They have submitted their memorandum and we have not rejected it. It is under consideration of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. A decision in this regard will be taken keeping in view the current financial situation of the state.”
“All of us have been affected by the lockdown. There is salary cut everywhere. The state’s revenue collection has also decreased. Bus owners were earlier convinced by the Transport Department for restoration of normalcy,” said the Minister.
Worth mentioning, private buses started plying on roads from May 28, after a gap of almost two months following announcement of COVID-19 lockdown, after the Government assured bus owners to fulfill their various demands, including tax exemption.