GUWAHATI: The All India Road Transport Workers Federation (AIRTWF), Assam state committee, and the Coordination Committee of Cab Operators here staged a dharna at Koinadhora point in Khanapara here on Thursday, demanding security for Meghalaya-bound tourist taxi drivers besides free COVID tests for both drivers and passengers at centres near the inter-state border.
In a statement, AIRTWF state committee general secretary, Biren Sarma said that a memorandum was submitted to the commissioner and secretary of the Assam transport department expressing concern over the alleged harassment of taxi drivers/cab operators in Meghalaya on the pretext of COVID tests.
“Despite a meeting here recently between senior transport officials of both Assam and Meghalaya, drivers from Assam continue to be harassed on the pretext of COVID tests in Meghalaya. So we have demanded authorities in Assam to ensure security for our drivers for unhindered movement and to also set up centres for free COVID tests along the inter-state border for both drivers and passengers,” Sarma claimed.
The Meghalaya health department, for its part, has recently revised COVID test protocols and accordingly eased entry and exit restrictions.
Among other demands, AIRTWF demanded stoppage of toll tax collection till completion of the national highway construction; exemption of tax for commercial vehicles till March, relief and aid to road transport workers who suffered losses during the lockdown period and early implementation of the proposed welfare scheme for road transport workers.
The AIRTWF representative said that the joint commissioner, transport department had during submission of the memorandum, assured that a COVID test centre would be set up at Khanapara for the benefit of drivers and passengers from the state.
This was the second protest programme by the two organisations at the same venue within ten days.
Later, speaking to media persons, the federation and the committee representatives threatened to intensify their agitation if their demands were not addressed at the earliest.