Crisis hit public transport sector seeks government help to survive
Hyderabad: Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India – (BOCI) & AP and TS Bus Owners Association of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, representing private passenger transport operators urged the state government to provide immediate relief to the public transport sector which is on the brink due to lockdown in the wake of Covid19 pandemic The public transport sector has requested the government to consider waiver of taxes, deferment of tax payments, extension of vehicle insurance validity and increase in price/fare on tickets, extending the loan moratorium and Deferment of EMI payments for next 6 to 12months and the Interest component be waived off for the deferred period to save the business from collapsing.
The Current fleet of vehicles under the Private Passenger Services is approximately 1lakh vehicles in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The lockdown has hit the sector hard with many operators on the verge of bankruptcy. Around 2 lakh direct employees like drivers, attenders, cleaners, office staff etc. and over forty thousand indirect employees including mechanics, painters, dhobis and other semi to unskilled workers are facing job losses. Most of these workers are sole bread winners of their families from low-income strata and are totally dependent on the transport industry.
However, the Governments of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana has asked the private Bus, car & cabs owners to pay the tax for the quarters where the vehicles are under nonuse due to Lockdown. The guidelines of government did not allow operators to carry passengers for public transportation other than essential, emergency or Covid services. The Telangana State cabs and bus operator’s association president Mr. Syed Nizamuddin along with his fellow bus owners brought their problems to the notice of the state Government. There are several petitions also filed in the both states’ High Courts pleading to waive off the Motor vehicle tax for the lockdown period while the vehicles are under Nonuse. The sector has made several representations to the authorities in the transport department, Ministries of state in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to draw their attention to multitudes of issues faced by the sector.
One of the bus operators from Andhra Pradesh with 10 buses pays Rs. 26,46,000/ per quarter-as road tax for both the states and per annum pays around Rs, 1,05,84,000/- . The ask from the government is to waive tax for at least 4 quarters, out of which 2 quarters are completely lost due to lockdown and vehicle nonuse.
The key asks of the sector to various authorities in the Government of Andhra Pradesh & Telangana states are:
Waiver on Motor Vehicle Tax
Extension of Vehicle Insurance
Increase in price in tickets
Reduction in State tax & CESS on Diesel for public transport sector vehicles for next six months
Allow to put vehicles in nonuse for unlimited time.
Waiver on Toll tax for public transport vehicles
Portal access to interact with RTO for payment of fees, documentation etc. avoid person to person contact and reduce virus spread
Insurance coverage to drivers and transport workers plying during pandemic to ferry passengers, essential goods
Allow utilization of ESI / EPF funds to pay staff salaries
Viability Gap Funding for Public Transport
Deferment of EMI payments for next 6 to 12months
Mr. Satish Kumar D, Official Spokesperson, Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) said,“ The lockdown has aggrieved public transport operators, making a severe financial dent, leaving many on the verge of bankruptcy. As per the laid down stipulations of the Govt., though we paid the taxes for the vehicles in advance for March 2020 and for the relevant quarter, the operations of all such vehicles were inevitably stopped in the middle of the month due to the unexpected lockdown and we did not expect situation to worsen to this extent. We had to dig into our meagre savings to continue operations. Under these circumstances, we are unable to pay vehicle taxes, loans and insurance premiums. With almost zero income and multiple statutory and regulatory obligations, we are in an difficult situation and seek the support and assistance of the Government. We urge the concerned authorities to take immediate action to rescue the sector from a total collapse”.
“Further, due to the pandemic the Travel and Tourism sector is expected to take at least 6 to 12 months to recover. The restrictions are not eased and even if the public transportation is allowed till vaccine discovered, the operators will not get sufficient occupancy ratio and we will still be under loss. We also request the authorities to implement contactless transactions in transport department via online processes for transfer of ownership, permits issuance, tax payments, issuance of NOC, hire purchase agreement/termination and other activities which will help reduce long queues and spread of Covid virus” Mr. Sunil, Vice President, Intercity Operation,Telagana, BOCI .
Mr. Prasanna Patwardhan, President, Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) said, India moves on public transport, as more than 90% of our people use it for their daily mobility needs. We have over 17 lakh operational buses on Indian roads, out of which, about 1.50 lakh buses are operated by various STU’s. The remaining 15.5lakh buses, accounting for almost 30 Crore passenger trips, are run by private operators which are the member of various Associations & Federations affiliated to Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI). Being a labor-intensive sector, we request the government to support and save the sector from a total collapse. The fiscal relief sought will help the sector see through these tumultuous times.”
BOCI has also addressed these issues in a letter to the Honorable Prime Minister requesting for a job security of 1 crore people who have not been paid during the lockdown and requested government to take responsibility to pay salaries for 3 months. Rescheduling of all EMIs and Banks should be instructed to reschedule loans by giving at least six months moratorium period to all customers and to waived off the interest for the moratorium period. Banks and NBFCs should be advised to provide top-up working capital at low interest rates to resume business.