Transport crew switch off cellphones to avoid receiving calls from officials

The KSRTC employees’ strike hit hard the public in Malnad districts – Hassan, Shivamogga and Chikkamagaluru. Except for the officers and the clerical staff of the corporation, none reported for duty on Wednesday, forcing the district administration to make alternative transport arrangements with the help of private operators. The senior officers continued to convince the employees to return to duty; however their efforts hardly yielded any results.

Hassan division, which operates 518 routes daily, registered over ₹65 lakh revenue per day in the pre-COVID-19 times. It had come down to ₹50 lakh a day in recent months.

“None of the drivers and conductors reported for duty. They have switched off their cellphones, to avoid receiving calls. However, we are trying to reach them. I am sending officers door to door with a hope that at least a few would come for duty”, Rajesh Shetty, Divisional Controller of Hassan, told The Hindu.

The division had prepared a list of 250 important routes well in advance and handed over the list to the district administration so that private vehicles could operate those routes.

Many government officers and teachers who travel to taluk centres from Hassan regularly had to depend on private vehicles. Dinesh G., principal of a degree college in Hassan, said he took his personal car to travel to Mysuru as he had to take part in the paper evaluation duty on the University of Mysore campus.

A woman who had travelled to Shivamogga from Hyderabad by a night bus had no bus to reach her place Thirthahalli. She had to wait till the private buses operated on the route.

T.R. Naveen, Divisional Controller of Shivamogga, said none of the 318 routes was operated in the division on the day. The division with four depots would register a revenue of ₹35 lakh on a normal day. The officer said private buses had been allowed to operate from the KSRTC bus stands. The public had been making use of the alternative facility, he added.

Two buses operated

The continuous efforts to convince the staff members yielded a small result in the Chikkamagaluru division. H.T. Veeresh, Divisional Controller of Chikkkamagaluru, said the officers could operate two buses in the afternoon. “One from Belur to Halebid and another bus from Kadur to Chikkamagaluru were successfully operated. We are hopeful that other employees will also join”, he said.

The officer said his division would earn revenue of ₹55 lakh on any day and the daily expenditure would also be the same.

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