Bus owners’ association threatens stir over drivers’ agitation in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Amid ongoing strike by drivers of commercial vehicles in the State, All Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association (AOBOA) today warned the Odisha government to make the national highways free from roadblocks by the agitators, or else it will stop plying around 14,000 buses in protest.

Earlier on Wednesday, the private bus owners’ outfit had agreed to run their vehicles from Thursday. Accordingly, private buses went on-road in the morning but were compelled to terminate service after some of their employees were manhandled at several places, even in the presence of police.

“We were not provided adequate protection across the State to run buses, as was previously committed by the government. Many of our staff were detained by the agitating drivers. Hence, we had no other choice than to cease the movement of vehicles,” said General Secretary of AOBOA Debendra Kumar Sahu while briefing mediapersons in a press conference here.

“If the national highways in Odisha will not be cleared by this evening, we will be forced to stop the bus services from tomorrow. From 10:00 am to 11:00 am tomorrow, all the bus owners will protest by halting the vehicles on highways in 30 districts. If the government will not take appropriate step, we will be compelled to stop the movement of buses indefinitely,” Sahu warned.

“About 14,000 private buses of 8,000 owners in the State will be off the roads,” Sahu added.

Echoing similar views, the AOBOA president Loknath Pani stated, “We have no objection to the demands of the drivers’ federation. Passenger buses should not be involved in the strike. No labour organizations are supporting this strike. The passengers, bus owners and staff have been facing problems.”

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