After the vehicle developed snag, the operator neither responded to the calls of stranded passengers nor arranged for a replacement

Thirty-five bus passengers travelling to Hyderabad from Visakhapatnam in a private bus were stranded from the middle of the night near Kasimkota on Friday due to a technical snag.

The semi-luxury bus belonging to Kaleswari Travels developed a technical snag near Kasimkota and stopped at about 1 a.m.

According to some bus passengers they noticed smoke from the radiator region of the bus.

To add to the woes of the commuters, the bus operator neither responded to their calls nor arranged for a replacement service.

“We were left high and dry in the middle of the State highway in the night. It was the local police who stopped a return bus and put us in at about 7.30 a.m. and we returned to Visakhapatnam,” said a passenger.

At Visakahapatnam, the commuters staged a dharna at the Kaleswari Travels office in Seethammapeta. Thereafter employees downed the shutters and fled. An agitated passenger complained that the bus operators had charged more money than the actual fare, as the demand was very high, and despite that, they did not respond positively to the crisis.

According to Kasimkota police station inspector Vijay Kumar, the operators neither cared to send a replacement bus or a breakdown van to get the bus moving. “The bus was seized by the Road Transport Authority,” he said. Anakapalle Road Transport Officer Mohammed Salim said that the RTA seized the bus and cancelled its fitness certificate.

“The bus had all the certificates, but the RTA is empowered to cancel the fitness certificate in the event of mechanical failure, which can put the travellers at risk. We are investigating the snag,” he said. In last one year there were over eight major bus accidents across the State concerning the hi-tech long-distance buses.

The buses involved in the accidents belonged to both APSRTC and private operators.

But post-Mahbubnagar accident on October 30, in which 45 passengers were charred to death, the RTA has intensified its checks on the bus operators.

“The court has issued an order to put a lock on the speed limits. We have done it on the APSRTC buses, but the private operators have not adhered to it, ” said Mr. Salim.

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