Commuters in Delhi faced problems as transport associations observed a one-day strike to protest against the hefty penalty amounts for traffic violations under the amended Motor Vehicles Act, News18 reported. Taxis, ride-hailing services such Ola and Uber, private cabs and autos went off the road. Many schools remained closed, according to PTI.

The agency also reported that 18 people were arrested in Noida for forcibly stopping vehicles.

Delhi Metro and Delhi Transport Corporation buses, however, remained unaffected, providing relief to people. Airlines such as Vistara, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir asked fliers to plan their travel to the airport accordingly, reported NDTV.

The strike has been called by the United Front of Transport Associations. It represents 41 associations and unions of goods and passenger segments, including trucks, buses, auto-rickshaws and taxis in the National Capital Region. The strike could hit ride-hailing services such as Uber and Ola and private buses.

The office bearers of the transport body on Wednesday blamed both the Centre and the Delhi for the strike.

The association’s convenor, Rajender Kapoor, said the strike will remain in place from 6 am to 10 pm, and will disrupt the public transport network through the day, The Indian Express reported.

Kapoor questioned why the Delhi government could not reduce the rates of compoundable offences under the amended Act the way some states have done. “We know the law was enacted by the Centre, but why is Delhi not doing what is very much under its domain?” he said.

UFTA General Secretary Shyamlal Gola said the transport sector is going through its worst phase because of “rising economic uncertainties, exorbitant taxes and penalties and corruption”.

“We have been seeking redressal of our grievances related to the new MV Act from both the Centre and the Delhi government for the last 15 days, but no solution is there in sight, forcing us to go on one-day strike,” Gola was quoted as saying.

He said the new penalties imposed by the government has increased the corruption, high-handedness and harassment of vehicle owners and drivers.

The leaders of the federation demanded that the government withdraw certain provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, such as steep penalties and limiting liability of insurers to Rs 5 lakh. They also wanted insurance and medical facilities, and an increase in free parking time at airports and railway stations.

Many parents were alerted by their children’s schools that educational institutes will be closed on Thursday. “Most of the schools have announced off due to strike of transporters and preparatory leave of ongoing exams,” Bharat Arora, general secretary of the Action Committee of unaided recognised private schools told PTI. Some other schools have asked parents to make travel arrangements for their children.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 31 and came into force on August 9. Sixty-three clauses, including the penalty provisions, were implemented from September 1. The legislation aims to remove corruption, improve road safety and use technology to regulate traffic. However, many states have raised concerns about the exorbitant penalties.

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