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Indefinite taxi strike in Sikkim

Indefinite taxi strike in Sikkim
The 'indefinite strike' called by the All Sikkim Taxi Drivers’ Association was not effective from its first day as private and government buses were seen plying as usual while a handful of taxis were also spotted on the National Highway.

The drivers are protesting against the state government’s decision to hand over taxi syndicates to cooperative societies. Mainline taxi syndicates operated by taxi drivers’ welfare associations are to be maintained by the cooperatives as per the government’s directive.

Around 1,500 taxi drivers and workers gathered at Singtam in east Sikkim to protest against the cooperatives. They took out a protest rally and staged a dharna outside the Singtam police station.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has said the government will not bow down to the pressure tactics of taxi drivers’ associations even as he asserted taxi ticket counters would be henceforth manned by cooperative societies.

“People from outside of Sikkim are involved in almost all the businesses here. The majority of those involved in the so-called strike are not from Sikkim. We are firm in our decision and will not relent even if the strike continues for a year,” said the chief minister today while addressing a function at Chakhung in west Sikkim.

Around 15 private buses carried passengers down to Siliguri and other places from the main line stand at Deorali. At least a dozen West Bengal number taxis had arrived in Gangtok with passengers. However, ticket counters for Siliguri, Kalimpong and other neighbouring places remained closed throughout the day.

The strike might affect the state’s tourism business as it is the festive season, but ignoring the apprehended loss, members of the Gangtok South-West Denzong Transport Cooperative Society and the Gangtok-Singtam-Rangpo Unemployed Youth Taxi Service Cooperative Society said they “welcome the new cooperative policy of the state government as it is beneficial for unemployed local youths”.

The cooperatives are functioning according to the norms laid down by the government and working on providing better facilities to drivers as compared to the earlier association, they added.

Further, they said, “We are neither against nor for this indefinite strike. We have opened counters and are trying to convince drivers to ferry passengers as we don't want to the latter to face any problem during the festive season.”

Almost 15 vehicles carried passengers from Gangtok to Rangpo, Singtam and south-west Sikkim today. However, the ticket counters for Pakyong, Rhenock and Rongli were shut down and the stand was empty.

Source: EOI

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