Mumbai braves 'Terrible Tuesday'

Sep 21, 2011, 07:45 IST | Maleeva Rebello and Faisal Tandel

Mumbaikars continued to face hardships as the auto strike continued on day 2; a ray of hope emerges, as auto union leader claims strike will be called off today if all demands are met

Anxious and grumbling, Mumbaikars faced hardships to get to work on the second consecutive day of the auto strike that paralysed the suburbs of the city. While the autos were adamant in their objections against the RTO, commuters bore the brunt of adversity on the streets.

All lined up: Commuters had a hard time travelling in the suburbs as
rickshaw drivers refused to ferry passengers on the second day of the strike.

Commuters complained that it was always the common man who had to suffer every time any mode of public transport went on strike. Vishal Deshmukh, a resident of Ghatkopar, grumbled, "It's the second day that the rickshaw drivers are on strike and every time they refuse to ply the streets, it is the common man who suffers.

The RTO was right in taking away the tampered meters. I approached more than five rickshaws, but none agreed to ferry me home."

Loss of business
And it wasn't only commuters who grumbled about the strike, rickshaw drivers too moaned about the loss of business owing to the strike. Mohammad Shaikh, a rickshaw driver at Andheri, said, "We were made to join the strike by other rickshaw drivers whose meters were taken away by the RTO. They came with sticks to threaten us and forced us on Monday to support them. We understand their problems and feel their pain."

Noor Mohammed, another rickshaw driver lamented, "My wife delivered this morning. This is our third child. I have to pay hospital bills amounting to Rs 3,000. I have two children who go to school and who have to be fed.
My rickshaw is on rent. I have to pay the owner Rs 200 for an 8-hour shift. Since the strike started I have not been able to earn a penny. Everyday I make between Rs 500 to Rs 700. Most of that amount goes in spending for CNG gas where the petrol pump people take Rs 10 extra. The public complaints of the rickshaw drivers cheating them, but we are also cheated."

Jaidev Singh, an auto rickshaw driver from Bhandup said, "I am a diabetes patient and was ill for the last two months. Yesterday when I returned to work, I came to know about the strike from my colleagues. The strike will be affecting us as most of us are driving the rickshaw on shift. I earn Rs 500 a day of which
Rs 200 is to be paid to the owner, while Rs 150 for LPG and oiling and at the end of it all only Rs 150 remains, which is not enough to feed my family."

Meanwhile, K Narayan, the union leader of the Bandra to Dahisar rickshaw union, offered a ray of hope to commuters. "We have spoken to the RTO officials at Andheri and they have agreed to stop checking the meters without complaints. We had a discussion with all those affected and have decided to start plying rickshaws from Wednesday. We, rickshaw drivers, are the ones that suffer, as most of the rickshaw drivers do not own them and have to pay rent. If they do not ply, they are the ones who don't have any business and it is their families who have to sleep without food."

However, taxi drivers laughed their way to the banks as more people opted to use cabs. "Many people are hailing cabs in the suburbs. I have made almost Rs 5,000 in the last two days," said Babloo Rajmal, a taxi driver.

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