The two sides are at loggerheads in the wake of intensified raids for violation of rules

The war between private travel operators and Transport Department officials is hotting up in Krishna District due to latter’s categorical stand that raids conducted to bring erring operators to book will continue.

The two sides are at loggerheads in the wake of intensified raids for violation of rules, especially those relating to permit conditions, in the aftermath of the inferno in a private Volvo bus in Mahbubnagar District on October 30 last, which claimed 45 lives.

“We have booked 230 cases in the last 75 days and filed chargesheets against erring operators. With effect from December 30 we have been suspending permits for three months,” says Regional Transport Officer (RTO) Ch. V.K. Subba Rao.

Speaking about gross misuse of permit carriages, the RTO says many buses don’t even maintain the list of passengers. Responding to allegations that passengers travelling by buses seized in raids are left in the lurch without any alternative arrangement, Mr. Rao reminds of the repeated warnings to the public by the department against ‘illicitly’ travelling by private buses.

Operators cry foul

“We have also served notices on online travel ticket booking agencies like MakeMyTrip.com and redBus.com to stop the practice,” he says, admitting that passengers of only a few buses stopped could be ferried by RTC buses.

Departmental constraints, meanwhile, play spoilsport. For instance, private bus services have multiple boarding points across the city and the limited staff of the Transport Department is no match to them.

The seven Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVIs) and six Assistant MVIs in Vijayawada city are deputed to conduct raids, issue LLRs, inspect seized vehicles and serve notices on violators besides meeting their own targets.

The operators cry foul over what they view as ‘hullaballoo’ over a “small deviation which is there all over the country.” Private bus services have filled in the gap wherever RTC has failed. People opt for private services because of their good condition, proper maintenance and quality services, they argue.

“We want the authorities to amend the age-old laws and pave the way for operators to continue business,” says Satish Kumar, assistant general manager, Kesineni Travels.

More than 218 cases were booked against buses belonging to Kesineni Travels. After they were produced in court, the buses are back on roads now. “We will fight it out,” declares Mr. Kumar.

On Tuesday evening, meanwhile, six Inspectors fanned out in the city to zero in on buses operating in violation of the rulebook.

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