Bus drivers say the new arrangement is time consuming

Even as authorities maintain that refuelling at general petrol stations has not affected the KSRTC schedules in Mangalore Division, the drivers are complaining that their working hours have been stretching. Authorities concede that the new mode of refuelling is more time consuming.

As per the new direction, the KSRTC buses now go to fuel stations for refuelling; this way they save additional Rs. 12 a litre they have been asked to pay by oil marketing companies. The additional charges are applicable only to bulk consumers. Following Union Government’s decision, the cost of diesel at KSRTC depots would be Rs. 63 a litre as against Rs. 51 charged at private outlets.

Refuelling at petrol stations is being done since Monday. Divisional Controller M. Ramesh said that on an average Mangalore division required 45,000 litres of diesel a day, of which 25,000 litres were needed by buses running from Mangalore. The refuelling was being done at two petrol stations in Mangalore and one each in Puttur, Kundapur, and Udupi.

“So far, there has not been any disruption in service because of the new arrangement,” Mr. Ramesh said. Buses were being given priority during refuelling at petrol stations, he added.

But the drivers said the new arrangement was time consuming. “I have to wait nearly two hours to refuel at bunks. This increases our working hours further,” said the driver of a Mysore-bound bus. Another Mysore-bound bus driver was waiting for his turn at the petrol station at KPT Circle. “We have no other option but to wait for the personnel to come and fill the tank,” he said while two more buses joined the queue. “Any more buses (joining the queue) will just block the way,” he said on Thursday evening.

A driver of a KSRTC premium class bus said there had been problems for the first few days. “Now we are getting the retailer to bring a tanker with a 1,000-litre capacity to our depot (in Puttur) ,” he said. Another driver said that retail bunk operators were sending diesel in tankers to Kundapur and Puttur KSRTC depots.

As many as 44 buses from the KSRTC Depot No. 3 near A.J. Hospital have been coming to the petrol station at the KPT Circle every day. “In the beginning we did face problems. It did result in long queues, even more so when AC buses came for refuelling.” Now it was more systematic and long queues were being avoided,” said the petrol station operator at the KPT.

A clerk from the KSRTC has been placed at the KPT Circle petrol station to record the fuel filled in each bus. Based on the entry made by the clerk, the KSRTC makes payment to the dealer.

“There is a close scrutiny of my work. Vigilance personnel make regular visits here,” the clerk said.

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