Kolkata: For the fifth time over the past 12 days, commuters here had a harrowing time as taxis kept off roads yesterday with cab drivers continuing their agitation protesting against police “excesses”.
Hundreds of cabbies took part in a condemnation rally at the Dorina Crossing in the city centre Esplanade, decrying the government’s move to seek cancellation of bail of 21 drivers arrested earlier for vandalism.
The metro trains and public buses were packed, particularly in the peak hours, and serpentine queues seen in auto-rickshaw and cycle-rickshaw stands.
People arriving in the city through the Howrah and Sealdah stations and the NSC Bose International Airport were left stranded for hours in the absence of taxis. “For the last one hour, I have been looking for a taxi. But even the pre-paid taxi booth is empty,” said middle-aged Ram Srvastava at the Howrah station.
“After a long search, one taxi agreed to go, but asked for Rs1,000 for a 15km distance,” said another passenger, seemingly at his wit’s end. Kolkata taxis charge around Rs12.50 per km on normal days.
Since August 7, the taxi drivers have on five occasions pulled their vehicles off the roads by calling wildcat strikes or protest walks or even to rush to the court for “felicitating” bailed out colleagues earlier arrested for vandalism.