The demands raised by the transporters of J&K seeking hike in fare and adequate relief package in the shape of a three days ultimatum should not be taken as a threat or coercion by the government but as a ‘distress call’ since the industry is currently on the edge with no signs of recovery in near future. The UT’s transporters wanted a 50 per cent hike in passenger fares because SOPs for transporters mandated to run public transport only at 50 per cent capacity to maintain social distancing. The appeal by those responsible for ferrying people across the UT of J&K holds ground and should be given due precedence as the transport industry is one of the important sectors having imperative role in ensuring development and ushering in era of peace, progress and prosperity. To allay the fears of transporters is the responsibility of the government and it is the time to go for a sympathetic approach towards this section of people who are already on the verge of starvation especially those associated with this business as workforce of unorganized sector. Surely, the plight of this category of people is agonising as running public transport on existing fares with 50 per cent capacity will bring to peril the livelihood of several lakhs of them and their families. The commercial vehicles stopped operating in the middle of March month and have remained off the road since then in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Seeking immediate relief package, the frontal organisation of transporters in J&K has maintained that the transport sector is now on ventilator and lakhs of people are directly or indirectly dependent on it for livelihood. The government should give a proper thought on the issue and bail out the transport industry as its strategic importance cannot be under-estimated. What is advisable right now is that a balance be maintained while hiking fare so that commuters also not feel the pinch as they are also the part of affected lot due to lockdown.
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