Training programmes by Motor Vehicle Department’s (MVD) driver counselling centre at Kakkanad is set to regain momentum after a few setbacks, including a Vigilance case.

The centre’s functioning came to halt after an office bearer of Kerala Bus Transport Association moved the Vigilance Court, Thrissur, alleging irregularities in organising training sessions.

A few sessions were held in a hotel because of paucity of space at the Deputy Transport Commissioner’s office in Kakkanad. It was also aimed at making drivers feel at home, since we were finding it tough to get drivers to attend the day-long programme, said a senior MVD official.

Apart from a perk of Rs 250, the attendees were given lunch and refreshments. Bus transport association's Ernakulam district secretary Suresh Oommen said the State allotted Rs 88 lakh from road safety funds for safety awareness campaigns in the district. “I approached the court since there were discrepancies in a few of the accounts about organising the sessions,” he said.

MVD officials have hit back at the allegations. The charges were levelled against them in the Vigilance court after they began cracking down on buses that violated safety and permit regulations. “The case has demoralised many officers who went the extra mile to organise the training classes. The aim is to malign and demoralise us so that rule enforcement is diluted. Though the hotel was selected to organise the classes, expenditure did not shoot up since rent was discounted. All this was properly accounted for. Transport Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh has been apprised of attempts being made to thwart rule enforcement,” one of them said.

Joint RTO of Paravur Adarsh Kumar Nair, who was in the forefront of organising training and counselling sessions for drivers of heavy vehicles and those booked for grave rule violations, said a section of bus owners was opposed to MVD’s safety and enforcement drives. “They are trying to find fault in the way safety and awareness funds were used. The sessions will resume soon and we are looking for a more spacious building.”

On raising funds to organise the sessions, he said insurance companies had road safety funds and MVD was planning to tie up with them. A fall in accident figures will considerably benefit the firms.

Mr Nair spoke of how accidents involving tipper lorries came down in Ernakulam district after training was imparted to 5,000 drivers. Similarly, around 3,000 autorickshaw drivers and 1,500 people charged with traffic offences attended the sessions till date, making them more responsible while behind the wheel.

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