A packed private bus in Kerala. (Picture courtesy: Liji Jinaraj Flickr)
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Acting on a petition filed by an organization representing private bus owners, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the government order that asked for reverting to normal bus charges for two weeks. On May 19 the state government had allowed public transport with one person in each seat and hiked the charges by 50 per cent.

Following lockdown relaxation early this week, the state government came out with a fresh order withdrawing their earlier order and asked the private sector bus operators to revert to the old charges.

But the Kerala Bus Operators Forum approached the court and got the order stayed. From tomorrow they will be able to levy the increased 50 per cent hiked charges.

State Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran said this is a stay for just two weeks and wished to know if there is anything in the order that mentions revoking the three-month road tax waiver that the state government gave to the private bus operators.

“When the fares were hiked, the seating capacity was just one person in each seat, and following the easing of lockdown norms, full seating capacity has been permitted. The government has always been considerate to the demands of private sector operators. We are now waiting for the Justice Ramachandran Commission report on the woes of the transport sector,” said Saseendran.

Meanwhile, Gokuldas, a representative of the private operators, said every day one hears about reports of the state government bailing out the loss- making Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.

“We wish to know who will come to help us. We have only the government to approach and we always look forward for their help,” said Gokuldas.

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