Public transport remained suspended in Mysuru for third consecutive day on Wednesday, thanks to the indefinite strike by government-run transport corporations, which has affected thousands of daily commuters.
Talks between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led government and workers of state transport services have so far have yielded no results, and transport unions have refused to call off the strike until their demands are met.
A high-level meeting of KSRTC and BMTC action committee and the KSRTC unions is being held at the KSRTC central office at Shanthinagar in Bengaluru where talks were on to persuade the striking workers to report back to duty.
The meeting began on Wednesday morning and Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy, transport Department Principal Secretary Ramana Reddy, KSRTC MD K Rajendra Kumar Kataria, BMTC MD Ekroop Kaur and Transport Commissioner Ramegowda are participating in the meeting.
With no public mass transport alternative in the city, people relied on personal vehicles, private buses provided by companies, auto-rickshaws and private cabs, including aggregators.
The city and sub-urban bus stands witnessed people carrying their own luggage. Some of them were seen negotiating with autorickshaw and tax drivers who made a killing where a minimum of Rs 100 was being demanded even for a distance of one kilometre.
The worst affected were patients arriving and departing from the K R Hospital and Cheluvamba Hospitals. Desperate patients were unable to get around the demands of excess fare by auto and taxi drivers.
Thousands of students had to face a lot of difficulty as schools and colleges opened on Wednesday after the two-day holiday declared in the wake of the strike. In Mysuru, there are over 80,000 students and 40 percent of them depend in KSRTC buses. While students from areas including Hunsur, H D Kote, Nanjangud and Srirangapatna did not arrive at the schools and colleges, students who managed to come to the city taking other means of transport were seen walking along the roads towards their homes.
At markets, tonnes of vegetables and flowers worth several lakhs was destroyed as there were no buses to transport them.
With the state transport department allowing private buses and mini buses to operate, major roads of the city witnessed traffic jams. Traffic police said that private bus drivers were adding to the chaos by driving recklessly.
The city police have imposed Section 144 to deter striking employees from preventing trainee drivers from operating the buses. Some of the employees had returned to work voluntarily on Tuesday and drove a few city buses. They were prevented by striking employees and according to the police, Section 144 was to avoid damages to buses and injuries to driver.
Section 144 has been imposed in areas such as Kuvempunagar, Vijayanagar, Bannimantap, Satagalli bus depot, KSRTC sub-urban bus stand, city bus stand and KSRTC office starting from July 26 midnight to July 28 midnight.
The employees of KSRTC and BMTC are demanding a 35 per cent hike in wages, while the government is ready to give 10 per cent. Over 1.2 lakh workers and 23,000 buses belonging to Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bengaluru Metropolitan Road Transport Corporation (BMTC), North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) remained off roads.