PUNE: Jaya Pawar (25) looked distressed as she went around the Swargate stand of the (MSRTC) on Friday frantically looking for a Kolhapur-bound bus.
“It’s almost two hours and there’s not a single bus. My grandmother is ill and I have to reach at the earliest. I am new to the city and do not know from where to board a private bus,” she said as employees of the MSRTC went on a strike at several of the state-run undertaking’s depots demanding an immediate pay hike.
The family of Shahzad Sheikh, originally from Amravati, was also spotted waiting at Swargate. “If we had the faintest idea about the strike, we wouldn’t have gone as we are on a fast as this is the holy month of Ramzan,” said Sheikh, who lives in the Kausarbaug area.
Officials of the MSRTC’s Pune division said they were trying their best to convince the drivers to resume duty because the passengers were suffering. Senior officials in the Regional Transport Office-Pune said they were ing various private bus associations for help.
“We are keeping an eye on the private transporters to ensure that the passengers were not fleeced. If the strike continues, we will ask the private bus operators to ply their vehicles from the ST stands. We have also ed the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) for help,” Pune regional transport officer B I Ajri told TOI.
For many passengers, private buses and cabs were the only option. Jatin Parashar was seen at the Swargate stand with a fire extinguisher. “I work with a small company and have to deliver this to a client in Navi Mumbai. I asked a cab driver and he sought Rs 1,200 as fare,” he said.
“I did not get a bus for Ahmednagar. The private buses are charging me Rs 300 extra. But I have to go today,” said Ratna Shinde, a student.
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