The lockdown that crippled the country’s economy has impacted the passenger transport companies as well. About 20 lakh people working directly for operators of private buses and taxis have already lost their jobs, and another 30 to 40 lakh jobs are under threat.
According to the Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI), approx. 20,000 operators possessing 15 lakh buses and maxi-cabs and 11 lakh tourist taxis have been providing direct employment to about 1 crore people across the country. However, with travel being brought to a halt during the lockdown and with no business in the tourism sector, these private operators are seeking governmental support. They need the interest on their loans waived off and are also seeking tax waiver.
The only time some buses were running was when they were used to transport migrant labourers. Other than that, all vehicles had remained grounded since March.
These operators are struggling to pay salaries and wages to their employees. To prevent them from having to close down their businesses altogether, BOCI is hoping that that the Government will waive off motor vehicle taxes, offer concessions on diesel, and also do away with toll taxes for travelling from city to city within the country.
Since most of the vehicles have been out of operation since March, BOCI is also seeking extension of their insurance policies. This would be very helpful to these transport owners who end up paying up to Rs 2 lakh annually towards insurance of buses.
According to BOCI, Banks should waive off the interest on loans for these transport vehicle owners for a minimum of three months, and that no interest should be levied during the moratorium period.
Since businesses will take time to return to normalcy even after resuming operations, BOCI is seeking a change in EMI too, with smaller instalment amounts at the beginning, slowly increasing to a bigger amount. The operators are hoping that the tenure for their existing loans will be extended so that they are not bogged by the financial burden of EMIs.
In addition, BOCI is also demanding that the Government bring about structural changes and implement the ‘one nation, one tax one permit’.