KOCHI: Blatant violation of norms by private buses is nothing new. Numerous lives of hapless commuters lost is enough testimony. One glaring omission is the lack of doors.
Years after the state government issued a notification making doors mandatory for buses, including mofussil bus services, private buses continue to operate without doors. Passenger safety has simply been thrown to the winds, with the callousness of bus operators claiming another life the other day.
A 50-year-old man died after he fell from a running bus near Thykoodam on Wednesday. Though the victim, John Dominic of Kundannoor, was rushed to a private hospital, he succumbed to severe head injuries. The victim fell from the bus when he moved to the door to get down at Bund, near Kundannoor. The police confirmed the bus had no door.
“The Motor Vehicles Department has initiated a probe in this regard,” said P H Sadiq Ali, the Ernakulam Regional Transport Officer.
He said the government had issued a notification making doors mandatory for stage carriers operating services in the city and town areas across the state from July 1 2016. Though the bus involved in the incident is not a city service, it is illegal, the RTO said.
The government had amended the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules to make shutters mandatory for the front and rear doors of buses by removing the exemption for city and town services. Following this, the Transport Department issued a circular mandating doors.
But it was challenged by the bus owners before the Kerala High Court. Kerala State Bus Operators Association state president M B Sathyan said fitting doors is mandatory considering the security of commuters. In a majority of the buses, doors are either removed or tied to the body. This is being done by the door checkers reluctant to do the job. But the association is against this.
Sathyan also said the association challenged the order of the Transport Department mandating doors for city buses. “Opening doors outwards would lead to more accidents in the city,” he said.
The High Court had stayed the order and it is still pending before the court. At the same time, the association is against fitting pneumatic doors at both ends.
“It is costly and would require the alteration of the body of the bus. The present width of the doors of city buses is not sufficient to introduce pneumatic doors,” he said.
According to the RTO, following a High Court intervention in the decision, the officers are only checking mofussil services. They also conducted several awareness programmes for bus operators.
If the doors are removed or tied up, a fine of Rs 1,000 will be imposed on the bus owner. In some cases, the registration of the conductor will be cancelled as he is responsible for it. There is also a provision to cancel bus permits.
What people say
The lack of shutters in city and town services causes accidents, said Leela Kurian, a textile shop employee in the city and a regular commuter by bus.
“I use the private bus daily. It is a scary ride. Sometimes, I say the rosary too. The other day, a 50-year old man died after falling off the bus. But I can’t stop using the bus. Not everyone can afford cars. What if it was me? It will be nobody’s loss except my family’s. The authorities need to do something about this. They can’t go on being insensitive,” she said.
Amend the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules which will facilitate pneumatic doors in every stage carriage irrespective of whether they are city, town or mofussil services, said A Muhammed Dilshad, Kochi.
“The news was scary. I don’t use the bus that often, but the reckless attitude of the bus drivers is unacceptable. Several roads are also in terrible condition. The pipeline authority wait for the PWD to re-tar the road to dig it up again. Everyone’s life is under threat on these roads,” said Lalymol Mathew, a teacher from Tripunithura.
“I wouldn’t want a bus journey to decide my destiny! The most important thing one requires while using any conveyance is ‘safety’. If a bus, be it public or private, cannot assure that, better stop running instead of ruining our peace. Bus drivers should be fully accountable to the law and order authorities as well as the people for their rash actions,” said Coleen Maria, law student.