Mumbai, Feb 14 (IANS) Mumbaikars faced a harrowing time going to and from offices, schools, colleges and other destinations due to a protest by autorickshaw drivers here Thursday.
Over 5,000 autorickshaws took part in a procession, which went to the Mumbai Regional Transport Authority (RTA) office in Bandra, badly hitting both morning and evening peak hour traffic.
The strike, called by Sharad Rao-led Mumbai Autorickshawmen's Union (MAU), was to press for its demand for issuing 100,000 new auto permits which will double the number of autorickshaws plying in the city's eastern and western suburbs.
The MAU action follows weeks after the Maharashtra government permitted a hike in minimum fares, but refused to concede to the demand for additional auto permits in the already congested city and suburbs.
The government has directed the RTA to discontinue issuing new transport permits, Rao said.
This would ensure that no new autorickshaw could be introduced in Mumbai suburbs where citizens were already facing a shortage of the three-wheeler transport mode, he added.
The MAU has demanded that the state revive over 18,000 expired auto permits which can resolve the increasing shortage of autorickshaws in Mumbai suburbs.
MAU is also pressing for the demand to consider medical insurance, pension schemes and other benefits for autorickshaw drivers which were recommended by the state-appointed Patankar Committee, Rao said.