Srinagar, Aug 17: Public transport was on Monday resumed after remaining off the roads since March 18 this year due to COVID-19 in central Kashmir district of Srinagar, where 129 fresh positive cases were reported on Sunday.
Private transport besides some three wheelers and cabs were plying on different routes for the past over a month despite lock down and other restrictions. However, several hundred vehicles were challaned or seized for violating lock down restrictions and other Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
Passenger vehicles, besides mini buses, Sumos, cabs and three wheelers hit the roads since early this morning after remaining parked for about five months due to restrictions and lock down imposed by the administration to present spread of coronavirus.
Many areas witnessed huge rush of vehicles, leading to traffic jam in the down town and uptown. Traffic police personnel who were enjoying the lock down because of no traffic were on their toes regulating traffic movement.
Though the number of COVID-19 cases continue to witness daily increase, administration finally decided to allow public transport with some SOPs and other instructions.
The District Magistrate (DM), Srinagar Dr Shahid Choudhary issued an order pursuant to the State Executive Committee order dated August 4, 2020 permitting resumption of public transport operation from August 17.
He said public transport operations with a boarding of 50 per cent passengers in minibuses and up to a maximum of 4 passengers in 10-seater maxi-cabs and 2 passengers in taxicabs and auto-rickshaws will be allowed.
The instructions for resumption of public transport service include a plan for the number of vehicles which will be allowed to operate on designated routes in the district. To reduce footprint, not more than a third of the total number of vehicles will be allowed to operate on a route. It is notable that there are around 80 designated public transport routes in Srinagar, he said.
The transport sector suffered losses worth crores of rupees due to lock down as thousands of persons directly or indirectly associated with the sector, including driver, conductors and mechanics were rendered jobless. Majority of them faced starvation due to lock down, forcing them to take other ordinary jobs, including daily labour. The transporters said they could not pay installment to banks besides other taxes and insurance because of no work. They demanded financial assistance for the transport sector.