With the maintenance expenses of low-floor AC and non-AC buses, especially in the Ernakulam sector, drilling a hole in the coffers of the KSRTC, managing director K J Mohanlal has sought an explanation from the depot officials asking them to specify the reasons for the Ernakulam depot’s mounting expenditure bill.
In Thiruvananthapuram, unlike the Ernakulam depot, the Volvo buses are not being subject to daily or monthly repairs.
Also, the expenses being incurred from the Ernakulam depot is creating a heavy burden for the KSRTC and there is a need to examine the maintenance of the Volvo buses in Ernakulam, the MD added.
However, the depot officials at Ernakulam argue that the MD’s statement does not hold water because the Volvo buses here are subject to constant wear and tear owing to heavy traffic congestion along the roads unlike Thiruvananthapuram city.
Also, condition of the roads is yet another reason why the Volvo buses are being subject to undergo frequent maintenance.
“The cost of repairing a broken front glass pane reaches around Rs 1 lakh. The window panels on the sides incur an expense of Rs 40,000 for repair. Also, the engine and air suspension system are frequently damaged. During some months, the repair expenses reach up to Rs 6 lakh,” said a depot official.
He added that the KSRTC management is not taking efforts for the timely purchase of spare parts.
“Despite the damages, we are forced to run the buses because of the lack of spare parts. Also, we have only few trained hands for the maintenance of Volvo buses,” the depot official said.
Meanwhile, the number of Volvo buses at the Ernakulam depot have also increased during the past few months, resulting in more maintenance, high expenditure and losses for the KSRTC.
The KSRTC employees partially blame the negligence on part of the passengers for the damages.
“The air-conditioned buses are being carelessly handled by the public. Most of the seat hand rests, which costs at least Rs 400, are being destroyed by the passengers themselves. The other day, we found back seats covered with paan and dozens of plastic packets on one of the buses,” the employees said.
Currently, the KSRTC is yet to pay Rs 13 lakh to Vista, the company which undertakes the heavy maintenance of the buses.