And yet, say officials, the transport body cannot act against contractors’ drivers
With the safety record of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited already in tatters, the loss of two more lives has once again shifted focus on the negligible action being taken against any of the drivers of the buses involved in fatal accidents.
Red alert: Police officials conduct a panchnama after a fatal accident involving a PMPML bus. File pic
On Sunday night, two motorcycle-borne youngsters were killed after being hit by a PMPML bus in Kondhwa, taking the number of persons killed in bus mishaps to 15 since the start of the year.
The worrying fact emerging of this latest incident is that the bus involved in the accident is a PMPML contract bus, which was added to the fleet four months ago. Of the 15 fatal casualties this year, statistics reveal that contract buses have killed nine persons so far.
“There is nothing more important in this world than a life of a person and PMPML buses are killing people on the roads with impunity. Surprisingly, the administration does not have any data about contract bus drivers involved in previous accidents, or what action the owner has taken on them after the accident. It means people will continue to die and PMPML, with the help of the police, will hush up their mistakes,” said Jugal Rathi, president, PMP Pravasi Manch.
“There should be a proper monitoring of the contract buses and their drivers must undergo training sessions before taking the wheel. Our demand is that existing laws should be enforced properly and action should be taken on any vehicle, whether PMPML- owned or contract bus, after the fatal accident without partiality.” added Rathi.
Currently there are around 2,000 buses, of which 1,267 are PMPML-owned, 200 are running on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis, 377 on rental basis and 205 on contract. And with around 300 buses in the current fleet off the road due to maintenance issues, approximately 1,700 PMPML buses hit the city roads daily.
PMPML accident department chief Sanjay Kusalkar said, “In case of any accident our officer immediately reaches the accident spot, checks the bus and tries to ascertain the reason behind the accident. We carry out a panchnama, and a departmental enquiry is conducted on the driver. But for the contract drivers, we do not have any procedure to take action. After the FIR is registered, the police take action against them under relevant sections of the IPC.”