After the tests, they are removed; RTO never questions PMPML despite complaints
Pune: In the past few months, many incidents were reported about Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) buses catching fire and lack of fire extinguishers in the buses. However, the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Pune has certified that these buses are 100 per cent fire compliant as every PMPML bus, which turns up at the RTO for a fitness test, is fitted with a fire extinguisher.
Against this backdrop, PMPML CMD Nayana Gunde’s admission that a majority of the buses lacks extinguishers assumes significance.
In the latest fire incident last week, 30 commuters travelling in a PMPML bus had a narrow escape when it caught fire on the Ahmednagar Road BRTS route. This was the 10th fire incident involving a PMPML bus in the past five months.
When questioned about the number of fire extinguishers in PMPML buses, Gunde said, “A majority of the buses don’t have fire extinguishers and we have to check the exact number of extinguishers.” Sources from RTO said PMPML buses brought for the fitness test have fire extinguishers.
“On an average, 5 to 6 PMPML buses are brought to the RTO daily for the annual fitness certificates. It is mandated by the RTO that the public transport buses, including that of PMPML, should have fire extinguishers or else, they will not be issued the certificate. The fitness certificate is provided by inspectors. Besides other things, fire extinguishers are fitted in the buses during checks,” said the source.
A source from PMPML also revealed that their passing department, which is responsible for the fitness of the buses, has stored around 50-70 fire extinguishers, which they fit into the buses going for the fitness test.
Also, PMP activists several times in the past raised queries about fire extinguishers in PMPML buses. They had also written a letter to the then PMPML CMD but didn’t get a proper reply.
“The buses are temporarily fitted with fire extinguishers. Once the test is over, they are removed by PMPML. Also, the RTO never questions the PMPML despite complaints. This amounts to cheating and puts commuters in jeopardy, which is unacceptable. We had raised this issue with the authorities, however, there is no action taken till date. PMPML officials give excuses such as no parking space available for buses and thefts of fire extinguishers. If PMPML is really committed to citizens’ safety, they should have found a solution by now. The PMPML had to enforce the contract terms and sought 100 per cent compliance with them, which is also not done,” said Sanjay Shitole, Secretary, PMP Pravasi Manch.
Rupesh Kesekar, another activist of PMP Pravasi Manch, said, “As a regular commuter, we enquire about the safety measures taken by PMPML, but they have no answer to these questions. I had also filed an RTI query to know the actual number of fire extinguishers but I am still waiting for a reply.”.