Fed up with the frequent problems in hired buses, the PMPML board of directors is planning to replace all the 325 buses taken from different contractors on lease. The decision is expected in a meeting on Friday.
“We have received many complaints regarding contractors’ buses,” Prashant Jagtap, one of the directors on the board of PMPML, said. “There should be proper maintenance of hired buses and depots for them, and all safety precautions should be taken, but contractors are not bothered about all this and violate rules. That’s why we have decided to replace all the hired buses and introduce new buses.”
Jagtap said PMPML had begun operating hired buses six years ago in spite of stiff opposition. “The concept of hired buses in the PMPML was introduced in 2006, when I was a member of the PMPML,” Jagtap said. “From that day itself we have been opposing the decision to hire buses because contractors generally don’t take responsibility if any accident or mishap occurs.”
Once the decision to replace the 325 hired buses is taken, a fresh tendering process will start immediately. “The hired buses were taken on the a five-year contract and we were paying for these on a per-kilometre basis,” PMPML public relations officer Pravinsinh Pardeshi said. “There are a total of 10 contractors providing 325 buses.”
PMP Pravasi Manch, a representative body of commuters, claimed that buses hired from contractors were compromising the safety of commuters in a blatant manner. There have been many accidents involving hired buses.
“The PMPML is completely ignoring its responsibility when it comes to hired buses and not taking strict action against the drivers,” PMP Pravasi Manch president Jugal Rathi said. “Many times we have observed that after getting released from police custody, the driver joins duty in a few days. There is no record of drivers of contractors’ buses regarding their age, driving eligibility, joining date, experience and previous accidents. This was brought to PMPML’s notice many times, but no action has been taken.”
Rathi said he had sent a letter to the PMPML management and demanded that each accident should be promptly, objectively and impartially inquired into in a time-bound manner.