Mumbai: Forced to spend the nights in our buses - MSRTC drivers slam bad conditions
MSRTC drivers and other staff were promised food and accommodation by BEST, but many did not get either
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) drivers who came all the way from Nashik to bail out BEST buses, said they had been put up in very bad conditions. They said only after complaints of poor treatment and non-cooperation from the Undertaking that left many of them hungry and without accommodation, forcing them to stay in their buses, that they were bailed out after negotiations from their trade union. Now they have been put up at three and five-star hotels.
A bus driver said that they had been promised breakfast, lunch and dinner along with proper accommodation. However, they ended up being put up at the MSRTC rest house which got crowded, forcing many of them to spend the nights in the buses to avoid crowds.
"Forget accommodation, even food was not provided to us and many of us had to spend from our pockets to buy food," said a driver. Another driver said, "The day the buses reached Mumbai, September 24, it was raining heavily and the buses could not enter the city and were sent to Khopat bus depot in Thane, where all of us did not get any promised facilities. The next day when the buses reached Mumbai Central, only half of us were given food and put up at the MSRTC rest house, which became crowded. The first few days were complete chaos, though now things are better after we raised our voice."
'Union stood by us'
The drivers said that after they complained to the Kamgar Sena whose delegation met BEST officials, they were lodged in classy three and five-star hotels along LBS Road at Kurla with the best of amenities. The BEST will foot the bill for this. "After spending two days and nights in very difficult conditions, we were moved because we complained and the union stood with us," a driver said.
BEST activist and fan Rupesh Shelatkar said that the MSRTC buses are being given out at R75 per km and this should have included cost of food and accommodation of drivers and staff. Why does the BEST, which is already under financial strain, need to bear this additional burden?
BEST Chairman Anil Patankar said, "At least 176 MSRTC buses have arrived with their staff. They are being used on heavy duty routes and the first few days they arrived, there were some issues, but more or less all of them have been looked into and things are settling down."
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