THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even after strict orders were issued by the KSRTC to implement Driver cum Conductor (DC) or crew change system for long-distance services, the unit officers in several depots seem to have not taken the matter seriously. In a recent incident, a person succumbed to injuries, allegedly due to the carelessness of a unit officer who assigned long-hour duty to a driver in his depot.
The order was issued after the Sushil Khanna report revealed the accident rate involving KSRTC buses is very high due to the long-duty hours of the drivers. As per the order, the depot in-charge officer should assign eight-hour daily single duty for the operating crew in stages.
On April 22, a driver in Changanassery depot was assigned sixteen and a half hours continuous duty to operate a service from Changanassery to Velankanni (2.30 pm to 7 am).
The same driver, after taking rest for seven hours, operated the return journey till Palakkad. Normally, a crew change is assigned from the Palakkad depot for the service.
But due to lack of drivers in Palakkad in view of the election, the same driver willingly took up the duty, said Changanassery station master Harish Kumar.
As per the Motor Vehicle Act, if a staff has taken a double duty on a day, his next duty should be assigned after 48 hours. But, in this case, the driver was allotted the next duty on April 25 for Velankanni.
During the following journey, a pedestrian succumbed to injuries after he was knocked down by the bus at Mannuthy, Thrissur, said a KSRTC staff. However, the station master claims the incident happened due to the negligence of the pedestrian while crossing the road and not because the driver was tired after long working hours.
When Express inquired about assigning long-hour duty to the driver, which is against the rule, the unit officer concerned tried to put the whole blame on the employee instead of taking the responsibility for his mistake. The officer said the duty was not assigned to him forcefully, instead he willingly took the double duty. He also informed the employees apply for double duty because of their financial crisis and sometimes we consider it.
“He has taken the duty on his own will on April 25 after taking rest for 35 hours. The information is being manipulated by some staffs due to political reasons as they are trying to implement DC system here which was already rejected by the corporation,” said Changanassery unit officer Jacob Sam Lopez.
The particular bus driver told Express he willingly applied for the duty. “When there was a shortage of staff in Palakkad I have voluntarily asked for an extra duty. Hence, I was allowed to drive till Velankanni and I was replaced by a driver in Palakkad in my return journey,” said the driver.
Meanwhile, KSRTC MD M P Dinesh maintained the driver had not taken the 16 hours duty instead there was a crew change in Palakkad.
“I have inspected the following matter and it has been identified that a crew change has occurred in Palakkad and the particular driver has not taken a 16 hour duty,” said the MD. However, KSRTC’s vehicle supervisor at Changanassery Rajendran said it was not an isolated incident.
The double duty system is still being followed in the corporation for many services, he added.