Pune: Over 30 commuters travelling by a Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) bus on the Ahmednagar Road Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) corridor got the fright of their lives when the bus burst into flames around 9 am on Thursday, a few feet from the Viman Nagar corner stand.
As smoke filled the interior, commuters got trapped inside and were trying to get off but found one of the automatic doors was locked. Some passengers, in a state of panic, jumped out through windows.
This is the 10th such fire incident involving a PMPML bus in last five months.
A PMP activist claimed that the poor maintenance of buses may endanger passengers' lives. “The buses are not maintained properly, which is very dangerous for commuters. This has not happened for the first time. We have seen nine buses catching fire in the past five months. The authorities do not appear to be serious about this issue. They are only sending notices to contractors and doing nothing,” said Rupesh Kesekar, a PMP Pravasi Manch activist.
The PMPML will pay heed only when some fatalities would take place, Kesekar added.
“Most buses don't have fire extinguishers. Drivers and conductors don't know how to use them. PMPML shirks from its responsibility towards the buses being run by private contractors. It should identify problems and address them immediately,” he said.
The maintenance department is not working properly. It is using water instead of a coolant in the bus radiator, he alleged.
Daily commuters are complaining that this could happen anytime with any bus. The PMPML authorities cannot run away from their responsibility.
“The PMPML can't get away by saying that they are not responsible for buses being operated by private contractors. If the buses are poorly maintained, then the contract should be terminated with immediate effect,” said Vinayak Joshi, a daily commuter.