Private buses will continue to rub you and your vehicles the wrong way unless bus operators stop incentivising crew to bulk up collection. Yet-to-be-revised permit timings have also come in for a flak.
The death of a woman pillion rider after a rashly driven private bus rear-ended her two-wheeler at Chembumukku on Wednesday shines the spotlight on the the need to discipline private bus drivers and checkers who scare away motorists by banging on the doors.
The traffic police have charged the driver under Section 304 of Indian Penal Code – culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
“Though it is a non-bailable offence, courts grant bail within a few days of the culprit being sent to judicial custody, in most cases. This emboldens drivers since law and the fear of imprisonment ceases to be a deterrent,” said a police officer.
Hardly a week into the gruesome incident, about two dozen private bus drivers and KSRTC drivers were arrested for drink-driving. “Following a spate of accidents, we are focusing on private buses. In all likelihood, their driving licence will be cancelled,” said Assistant Commissioner of Traffic Police (Edappally) P. P. Shams. Apart from the use of surveillance cameras to detect and penalise rule violators, he suggested that more personnel and land be allotted for establishing time-punching stations.
The contention by bus operators that crew are no more given perks for bettering daily collection is challenged by officers of the Traffic Police and Motor Vehicles’ Department.
“Had it not been for collection batta, are private bus drivers so service-minded and committed (to their owners) that they take the extra pain and drive rashly through congested roads,” wondered former Assistant Commissioner of Edappally Traffic Police K.E. Joy.
As far as I know, surveillance cameras are not being effectively used to penalise rule violators. Patrolling by plainclothesmen has to be intensified. Primitive modes of policing must be replaced with mechanised and discreet modes of penalising rule violators.
“Bus passengers too must react in unison. They must testify as witness before court since courts rely heavily on evidence,” said Mr Joy. He said just one driver was imprisoned (for six months) during 32 years of his service in police. “The certainty of punishment is a sure deterrent. Sadly, even grave accidents are settled at the Motor Accident Claims Tribunals (MACT) and relatives of victims are satisfied if they receive compensation.”
The Ernakulam District Private Bus Operators Association general secretary M.B. Sathyan said though bus workers cannot escape blame for accidents caused by rash and negligent driving, it was improbable that they alone are responsible for all cases.
He blamed congested roads and the lack of interest of the police in operating time punching stations as reasons for overspeeding.