City bus service continues with yes, no, ok

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Feb 2018 09:56:30


Staff Reporter,

Citizens were left wondering on Thursday late afternoon when the city buses were seen heading towards Morbhavan bus stand. They were perplexed when city buses remained at Morbhavan for a while. However, before the ‘tension’ between city bus service operators and Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) could escalate into a major inconvenience to the commuters, the matter was resolved and the buses were back on roads.

Jitendra alias Bunty Kukde, Chairman of Transport Committee of NMC, later tried to gloss over the ‘tension’ by saying that the ‘strike call’ was a rumour.
However, on further questioning by media, he said that he had a meeting with city bus service operators on Thursday evening in which it was decided that NMC would release Rs 50 lakh to each of the operators. “The city bus service is running smoothly now,” he added.

It came out that the entire ‘tension’ was caused as NMC had not paid ‘in time’ the dues to the city bus service operators. It came out that NMC had delayed the payment by a day.
As per the details, the dues of three city bus service operators amounted to Rs 28.96 crore. The amount included Rs 9.76 crore due to Hansa City Bus Services (Nagpur) Private Limited, Rs 9.50 crore due to R K City Bus, and Rs 9 crore due to Travel Time City Bus Services. Each of these operators runs total 370 city buses, of which 150 are of the operators (50 buses of each operator) and 220 are of NMC.

Each operator is to press into service 15 more buses. However, it was not for the first time that the ‘tension’ prevailed between the operators and NMC. Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS), an affiliate of Shiv Sena, alleged that three city bus service operators had asked its staff to park the buses in Morbhavan around 3.30 pm on Thursday ‘for no reason’.

Suresh alias Bandu Talwekar, District Organiser of BKS, told the mediapersons at NMC that when he came to know about it, he went to Morbhavan and ensured that the buses were back on roads. By parking the buses and causing inconvenience to the commuters, he alleged, the operators had violated the Transport Act and agreement with NMC.
“We demand that the Municipal Commissioner should initiate legal action against the operators. Also, if the operators are not able to run the city bus service, NMC should itself run the service,” he said.
Ambadas Shende, Secretary of BKS also accompanied Talwekar.

NMC’s financial crisis

Shivaji Jagtap, Transport Manager, blamed it on to ‘financial crisis’ faced by NMC. Asked about frequent delays on part of NMC in clearing of payment to city bus service operators, and threat by the operators to pull out buses from service, he pointed at the financial condition of the local body. According to Jagtap , it was decided while finalising the agreement with the operators that NMC would deposit Rs 60 crore in Escrow Account, and Rs 108 crore as viability gap funding. However, he told mediapersons, as the said amount could not be allocated, Transport Department was clearing dues from whatever financial resource available. “So far, we have paid Rs 75 crore to the operators, of which Rs 50 crore had come to NMC from ticketing revenue,” he said.

Kukde blames DIMTS for city bus service running in loss
Jitendra alias Bunty Kukde, Chairman of Transport Committee of NMC, said that the performance of Delhi Integrated Multimodal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited was ‘not satisfactory’ and hence city bus service was running in loss.

DIMTS has been appointed to supervise functioning of all four city bus service operators and two ticketing agencies. DIMTS has not been able to streamline the functioning of city bus service, Kukde said. According to him, NMC earned around Rs 5 crore from ticketing revenue every month, and paid between Rs 11 crore and Rs 12 crore to seven operators including bus operators. “So, there is per month loss incurred by NMC. Still, I must say that the loss is comparatively lesser than that incurred by local bodies in other bigger cities in State,” he added.

Asked about steps taken to increase revenue from city bus service, he accused the civic administration of not acting with utmost seriousness on his proposal of generating revenue through advertisement on buses and at bus stops. “I am sure that NMC can earn additional revenue of Rs 1 crore from advertisements,” he said.

Shivaji Jagtap, Transport Manager, quickly added that NMC had invited Expression of Interest (EoI) for the purpose of advertisements. As there was not much of a response, he said, NMC was consulting the people concerned and the process was still on.

The issue of minimum wages to drivers, conductors

The drivers and conductors have been demanding minimum wages as per the Government norms and it also is one of the reasons behind ‘tension’ on city bus service. However, at present, there appears to be no solution in sight to this.
Jitendra alias Bunty Kukde, Chairman of Transport Committee of NMC, told mediapersons that NMC had sent a proposal in this regard to Subhash Desai, Industries Minister and a veteran Shiv Sena leader. However, he alleged, despite several reminders from NMC there was no response from Desai’s department. “It is surprising that Shiv Sena minister is sitting pretty over the proposal but the same party’s local unit is resorting to agitation to demand minimum wages for city bus service employees,” he remarked. His remark was in response to Shiv Sena’s workers wing Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) demanding minimum wages for Nagpur city bus service employees.

Shivaji Jagtap, Transport Manager, explained to the mediapersons that the issue centred around two notifications issued by Industries, Energy, and Labour Department of State Government. At present, he said, wages were being paid to Nagpur city bus service employees as per the notification dated June 10, 2010. However, the workers were demanding wages on part with NMC staffers as per the notification dated February 24, 2015. “We have sought clarification in this regard from Industries, Energy, and Labour Department and we are waiting for that,” he said. If bus service employees are paid wages in accordance with the 2015 notification, they will get 65 per cent hike.