“Why didn’t they save their own property? This (damaging buses) indicated that even though the buses are public property and in spite of the recent fare hike, they don’t mind damaging them. Why didn’t they instruct their men not to damage the buses? I was in one of the buses, when the protestors started pelting stones at the vehicle in Andheri. This forced me to go back home,” said a disgruntled Ramchandra More, regular bus passenger to Kandivli.
Almost empty buses
“We had to ply all of our buses so that the passengers weren’t inconvenienced. To our amazement, the buses were being plied almost empty during the day. Though we had expected fewer passengers, this was way below our expectation. Only 20 per cent of the daily commuters were seen travelling via buses,” said a senior BEST official.
Insurance to rescue
Though the losses incurred by the BEST runs into several lakhs, the administration is breathing easy, as most of the buses have insurance cover. “It is true that the buses are insured. However, passengers will have to suffer for a few days, as over 100 buses will be off the road for repair works,” said Dilip Patel, BEST committee member from BJP. It was Patel who led a morcha against the petrol price hike in Goregaon during yesterday’s bandh.
Commenting on the act of vandalism, he said, “During such instances, protestors become uncontrollable. There are multiple cases wherein the anti-social elements damage properties by posing as protestors.” Ashok Dharmaraj Patil, BEST committee chairperson (Shiv Sena), said, “The damage is less than what we had incurred during last year’s protest. We had no option but to ply the buses.” Asked whether he would approach his party to pay for the damages incurred by the BEST during the bandh, Patil said, “We will talk to our party and committee members before we take the final call.”
BEST fact file
Total number of buses: 4,120
No of buses scheduled to plying during bandh: 3,673
Actual number of buses that plied during bandh: 3,123