A consequence of lax supervision
A Consequence of Lax Supervision, Ghastly Mishap, Supervision by RTA Officials. One thing is clear. There is hardly any supervision by RTA officials over private bus services. Private bus operators are in the forefront when it comes to violation of rules stipulated in the Motor Vehicles Act.
The ghastly mishap on Wednesday, which claimed the lives of 45 persons travelling in a luxury bus that was coming from Bengaluru, raises many questions with regard to buses operated by private players: Why generally private buses are involved in accidents? Why is there no vigilance over the quality and standards of private bus services? Why buses registered as ‘contract’ carriers are run as ‘stage’ carriers? Why is overloading not always checked? Why don’t private buses have speed governors in place?
One thing is clear. There is hardly any supervision by RTA officials over private bus services. Private bus operators are in the forefront when it comes to violation of rules stipulated in the Motor Vehicles Act. The RTA officials respond only whenever there is a mishap.
The Volvo bus that met with an accident at Kothakota in Mahabubnagar district on Wednesday was overcrowded. The bus has capacity for 43 passengers, plus a driver and a cleaner - in all, 45 seats. However, there were 51 passengers in the bus at the time of mishap. It is a clearly a violation. The bus was registered as a contract carrier which means the passengers had to board at one point and alight in the end point. The bus in question had been taking in passengers at various points throughout the journey.
The Central Government recently amended the rules exempting heavy vehicles from speed limit. This has been confirmed by officials of the Transport Department. Officials of the Transport Departments of various states have taken strong exception to the exemption and appealed to the Centre to review the decision.
At present, the 50 km per hour speed limit is applied only in the case of school buses. The officials are of the view that the Centre should immediately revise the condition and impose a speed limit that covers all varieties of buses. Experts say that speed governors should be fitted with the engines at the time of assembling by the company. If they are fitted later, they are not of much use.
The latest model Volvo buses do have speed control units fitted to the engines. By pressing a button the speed of the Volvo bus could be controlled immediately. Strangely, most of the drivers of these buses are not trained to use the speed control button. Except for APSRTC, no private firm gives orientation in driving to its drivers. There is no reorientation at all to drivers of heavy vehicle drivers.
According to officials, currently there are about 7,000 contract carrier vehicles in the State, of which 950 are buses. About 150 Volvo buses ply between Hyderabad and Bangalore. Almost all these contract-carrier buses flout the rules. Even the Transport Minister conceded that contract carrier buses were plying as stage carriers. In the same vein, he questioned the rationale of stopping these services, considering it would cause inconvenience to travelers. After a bus from Shirdi met with an accident in June 2012 killing 30 people, the Transport Department plunged into action and seized 400 buses.
However, instead of taking serious action and imposing heavy fine as per rules, the buses were handed over to the judicial court. The judicial court imposed a marginal fine as per the Motor Vehicle Act. In general, most of the travellers do not know how to respond to dangerous situations. Surprisingly even the bus crew members do not always know. They are not trained to break the window panes of the bus or use fire extinguishers. Of course, they are available in the bus. It is high time such training is provided at least to the private bus service staff.
21 Sep 2019 5:28 PM GMT