As Tuesday was a public holiday due to Mahashivratri, the effect of the strike was not too noticeable. Out of the fleet of 360 buses, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) could only operate 40 driverless buses on some specific routes, transport committee chairman Jitendra Kukde said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Area-II) Vinita Sahu attempted to intervene by talking to the managements of the five agencies (three bus operators and two ticketing agencies) of Aapli Bus and representatives of drivers and conductors striking. But his efforts failed as the strike continued all day, Kukde said.
“The majority of the 2,000 drivers and 1,800 conductors supported the strike and skipped their duty,” he said.
Drivers and drivers had threatened to cause a stir from March 1 by sending a letter to NMC, but no effort was made to avoid the commotion. As a result, a large number of commuters have faced inconvenience through no fault of their own.
Although city police personnel were deployed at the Mor Bhavan bus stand, the buses could not leave their depots as agitated conductors and drivers blocked the exit of the red buses. Some drivers even damaged the windshields of two Aapli buses at the Patwardhan ground depot.
After 1 p.m., Transport Committee Chairman Jitendra Kukde and senior officials from the NMC Transport Department visited Mor Bhavan and took over a handful of buses on a few routes.
Almost a week ago, drivers from Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) and Unity Infrastructure and drivers from Travel Times, RK City and Hansa joined Akhil Bharatiya’s strike call Manavidhikar Nigrani Samiti.
The collective had delivered memoranda to City Commissioner Radhakrishnan B on January 3 and 21 and urged him to call a meeting to discuss wage hikes and other driver and conductor issues, but to no avail.
The strike also revealed that program manager Aapli Bus Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited and the NMC transport department did nothing to prevent drivers from resorting to strike action, sources said.
Also in February, drivers at the two ticket agencies resorted to a lightning strike over non-payment of wages.
Kukde said notices had been served on the three red bus operators and the two ticket agencies to ensure conductors and drivers did not resort to strike action. “We have asked all agencies to ensure that their actual requests are met and that Aapli Bus services are not affected,” he said.
TOI reported that despite the presence of two ticketing agencies, bus services remain affected almost daily.
On Tuesday, TOI found a huge crowd in Mor Bhawan. A similar scene was seen in roadside bus shelters in Maharajbagh. In the absence of Aapli buses, commuters had to rely on autorickshaws, whose drivers were seen charging exorbitant fares.