On day one of the transport strike on Wednesday, there was hardly any public transport bus services in the districts of Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri and Uttara Kannada as the transport employees did not report to duty.
Although senior NWKRTC officials made an appeal to the striking employees to return to work, it did not make any impact on them and consequently, bus stands across these districts did not see any public transport bus operating.
At some places, it seemed that the public bus stands had become private vehicle stands. Multi-utility vehicles, mini passenger vehicles and mini buses lined up at these bus stands as the Regional Transport Officers issued temporary permits to operate their vehicles on specific routes.
Most of the passengers postponed their travel plans in view of the strike and only those who had urgent work reached bus stations hoping for alternative arrangements to reach their destinations. However, they had a difficult time as private vehicles were not run on all routes with most of them being restricted to taluk centres. Those who reached taluk centres hoping for alternative arrangements to reach their villages were in for a disappointment as they had to wait for hours at bus stands.
NWKRTC officials managed to run two city buses and one bus of the Hubballi Dharwad Bus Rapid Transit System from the Old Bus Station in Hubballi. A senior official told presspersons that the government would be forced to use ESMA against the striking employees, if they failed to resume work.
Meanwhile, there were complaints about private operators fleecing passengers in the absence of public bus services.