On February 12, 2018, when Nayana Gunde took charge as the new Chairman and Managing Director of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) after succeeding Tukaram Mundhe, she said that the problem of breakdown of buses on roads will be solved, but Pune still sees buses breaking down. The lack of enough technical workers at depots is the main reason behind this.
Recently, a PMPML bus carrying 30 passengers on Katraj-Nigdi route collapsed off a small bridge, 18 passengers were injured after the steering rod of a PMPML bus broke and the driver lost control over the vehicle. The bus, while turning left on the Pune-Bengaluru Highway to enter the service road, fell on the makeshift houses of labourers, seriously injuring one of them. The bus belonged to private contractor Mahalaxmi Automotive Pvt limited. The accident shows that there are some problems in the accident preventive maintenance of buses. PMPML needs to appoint a person, who would be in-charge and responsible for maintaining the buses.
Sakal Times spoke to the PMPML chief about the status. “Maintenance and repair of buses belonging to contractors has always been an issue. The administration takes action against contractors if their buses are involved in any such incident. Now, the administration has decided to inspect all the buses. From now on, regular maintenance, RTO passing, servicing, brake, clutch, gear, steering and others will be checked and a report will be submitted to the higher authorities after every 10 days,” PMPML CMD Nayana Gunde told Sakal Times.
The PMPML authority claims that all buses are fit and were passed by the Regional Transport Office (RTO). It means prior to sending the buses for fitness test, a temporary overhaul is given to the buses so that easily pass the test. As per the record, buses of private contractors running under PMPML are involved in the maximum number of accidents. This year till June, seven accident and last year (January to December) 25 accidents were registered by PMPML buses. The accidents show that there is less number of maintenance workers deputed by PMPML at each depot.
There are 13 depots of PMPML across the city and the technical workers are responsible for checking all buses, including PMPML owned CNG, private contractors’ buses, diesel buses. On an average, PMPML runs 1,700 buses every day and out of this only 1,300 (average) buses ply every day on roads and 500 (average) are not fit to ply, as per the record. It means the buses are not fit to be on the roads and dangerous for passengers. The unfit buses are flawed with problems of steering, braking, wiring, etc. The breakdown of buses still continues. On an average, 166 buses (78 PMPML-owned and 88 of private contractors) break down on roads every day.
“PMPML is unable to handle the problem because of lack of resources. If a man keeps falling ill, it is clear that something is seriously wrong with him and that he might need surgery or strong medication. Similarly, PMPML buses have been breaking down frequently in the past three to four years and the figures keep increasing with each passing day. The system needs complete overhauling. There is a big question mark over the maintenance aspect as well,” said an activist.
Each depot needs around 15-20 technical workers, who have a basic knowledge of CNG and diesel buses. When Tukaram Mundhe was CMD, he swapped the workers from one depot to another, which also not help the department bounce back from breakdowns. When Gunde joined new CMD, she revoked the transfers, but the problem is still the same. Each bus needs 0.9 per cent workers to check buses properly and the depots are lacking 25 per cent technical workers presently.
ADMINISTRATION TO INSPECT ALL BUSES
“Maintenance and repair of buses belonging to contractors has always been an issue. The administration takes action against contractors if their buses are involved in any such incident. Now, the administration has decided to inspect all buses. From now on, regular maintenance, RTO passing, servicing, brake, clutch, gear, steering and others will be checked and a report will be submitted to the higher authorities every 10 days,” PMPML CMD Nayana Gunde, told Sakal Times.