Amid the rising coronavirus COVID-19 cases among BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) employees, the umbrella body of major BEST unions has called for a “lockdown” or strike from Monday (May 18). The decision is going to create a lot of trouble of coronavirus-hit Mumbai because BEST buses are the only mode of public transport presently operational in the city.
The BEST management has, however, said that the buses will operate for essential services personnel and there will not be any hindrance in the transport of essential workers. Shashank Rao-led BEST Sanyukt Kamgaar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS), which has called for strike, has claimed that its staff was not provided enough safety measures during coronavirus outbreak.
The BBSKKS has, inter alia, demanded a separate quarantine facility and a hospital for BEST workers. The BSKKS has also demanded that the government must pay Rs 1 crore as compensation and job for the next of kin of deceased employees.
Notably, eight BEST workers have died due to the deadly virus and another 120 have tested positive so far. The BEST buses played an important role in movement of essential services’ employees across Mumbai after the suspension of suburban trains services due to the nationwide lockdown.
Some reports claimed that the Maharashtra government has decided to ply at least 1,200 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation buses in Mumbai to replace BEST buses.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in India continues to rise at a higher rate as more than 5000 cases were reported on Monday (May 18, 2020). India recorded the highest spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the total tally to 96,169.