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Bangalore Oil Tanker Drivers Withdraw Strike After Talks

Oil tanker drivers and cleaners who are on flash strike since Monday protesting the unilateral direction to enter the city only from Hope Farm and not via Hoskote, has finally been withdrawn owing to weekend rush for petrol as Ugadi festival is on Friday.

Oil tankers went on strike against the congested route which has many locals who demanded money to allow them ply on this road with the city police failing to provide enough security to them. Besides, it is a longer, riddled with pot holes and unsafe for tankers to ply when compared to the Hoskote route, they said.

OH Range Gowda, Secretary, Devanagundi Petroleum Tankers Drivers and Cleaners Welfare Association, told media: "Driving through Hope Farm is not only insecure but there is a lot of traffic on that route in recent times. Adding to our woes, even the roads are in a bad shape. Previously, there have been attacks on drivers too by the locals and driving over potholes and bad roads is painful."

Bangalore requires at least 700 tankers or 20 lakh tonnes of fuel (petrol and diesel) to cater about 400 retail petrol bunks in the city belonging to three state-owned companies — Indian Oil Company (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HP). The daily consumption of fuel in Bangalore is around 6 lakh tonnes of petrol and 8 lakh tonnes of diesel. The filling station at Devanagundi is 30 km from Bangalore.

Smaller tankers are paid Rs.25 per kilometre and large tankers are paid Rs.30 per kilometre and driving via Hope Farm in Whitefield requies at least five to six hours due to potholes and bad roads, with no security from local goondas, he said. "Instead, we want to drive via Hoskote where roads are not only good but there is also enough security."

But many companies have refused to pay the tariff for Hoskote route, which is 15 kms longer, prompting the oil tanker drivers go on strike. However, the strike was withdrawn toweards the evening on Wednesday after daylong negotiations between the oil companies and tankers’ owners’ association.

"The companies have agreed to allow us to operate via Hoskote and sought one month’s time to decide on the per-kilometre cost. Following the assurance, we have withdrawn the strike with immediate effect," said Gowda.

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