In a continued protest over salary hikes and other demands, drivers of wet lease bus operators hired by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking have been on strike for the fifth day. On Sunday, as many as 704 wet-leased buses from private operators remained off the roads, resulting in 69 per cent of BEST buses being operational.
According to an official of BEST, the scheduled Sunday timetable included a total of 2178 buses, including wet leases, out of which 1498 buses were running. Authorities are hopeful that the situation will improve on Monday as the wet lease contractor attempts to arrange for more drivers to operate the buses.
To mitigate commuter inconvenience, buses from the state-owned Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) have been pressed into service by BEST officials. However, long queues were reported at several BEST bus stops on Sunday due to the lack of available buses.
Misbehaviour with a BEST driver at the Malvani bus depot
In the midst of the strike, some wet lease drivers are opposing the running of wet lease buses by BEST drivers. On August 5th, a few agitators reportedly misbehaved with a BEST driver at the Malvani bus depot, who was operating a wet lease bus. The incident was immediately reported to the police, and security arrangements have been implemented at other bus depots to prevent such cases in the future.
"As the strike enters its fifth day, commuters continue to face inconvenience while authorities work towards a resolution and increased bus operations are anticipated on Monday," said officials.