Action against the local buses next in line, says Mangalore RTO

Mangalore Regional Transport Offices has seized 10 buses without emergency doors as required under the new guidelines issued after a couple of fire accidents which claimed several lives.

Mangalore RTO booked cases against 28 buses, including eight belonging to Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation on Saturday. “We are checking long route buses. Action against the local buses will be considered later,” said Mangalore Regional Transport Officer Afzal Ahmed Khan.

In Udupi, Felix D’Souza, Assistant Regional Transport Officer, said 112 long-distance buses were checked and cases were registered against five private buses.

The action of the RTOs follows direction by the State government that mandated the installation of an emergency door, not an emergency exit. This direction followed two separate fire accidents involving two Volvo buses of a private company claiming 52 lives when they caught fire.

The direction was first issued in November last year and the State government provided three months for installation of emergency door. Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy extended the period till April 30. “We started enforcing the rule from May 1,” Mr. Khan said. The focus was on buses plying between Mangalore and Udupi and to Shimoga, Puttur, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

On May 1, the Mangalore RTO booked 18 cases, including two KSRTC buses. Only fine was imposed on owners of these buses. On May 2 and 3, they booked cases against 10 buses and were seized.

“Compliance has been seen on nearly 90 per cent of buses going on long distances from the city,” Mr. Khan said. RTO officers have been inspecting nearly 150 buses per day, he said.

Karnataka Bus Owners Federation president Rajavarma Ballal said with the government’s direction, there has been a drastic increase in the buses getting the additional door. “There is a long queue (at the garage). It takes a minimum of two days to get the additional fitment.” They incur a cost of around Rs. 10,000 for having the two-foot wide door, he said.

KSRTC Mangalore Divisional Controller M. Mahesh said emergency doors have been installed in most of the buses, including Volvo buses. “Work of four Rajahamsa buses is pending,” he said. KSRTC has taken Rajahamsa buses to the workshop for the fitment of emergency doors.

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