Stone for the KSRTC bus complex laid on March 31, 2009

At a time when the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is cash-strapped, a nearly five-year delay to complete a multi-crore bus station-cum-shopping complex in the city has caused the public transport utility a loss of Rs. 12.5 crore and severely dented its operations in north Kerala.

Data collected by the zonal office of the KSRTC here goes into the minute details of financial loss.

The foundation stone for the complex was laid on March 31, 2009. The work, by the Kerala State Transport Development Finance Corporation Ltd. on a build-operate-transfer basis, was supposed to be completed in 18 months.

“Only 70 percent of the work is over so far,” a senior official with the KSRTC zonal office said.

The office is carved out of the dusty rear portion of a textile shop situated on the second floor of the Moffussil Bus Stand, a property owned by the Kozhikode Corporation where the KSRTC had to move after construction work started on their old depot premises on Mavoor Road.

A black-painted arrow scrawled on the spittle-stained wall directs one to the rickety steel staircase leading to the zonal office.

Here, the public transport body’s various departments, from vigilance to reservation enquiry counter, are partitioned by rough cardboard walls. Officials and files remain cheek-by-jowl. This office controls operations from Kasaragod to Kozhikode. But worse off are the passengers waiting for the buses.

The Kozhikode Corporation has allowed the KSRTC space to park only eight buses at the farthest end of the bus stand used for private buses. There are no shelters for KSRTC passengers.

The buses are parked next to heaps of garbage and an overflowing drain.

“The statistics we gathered due to the delay in construction of the new bus complex shows a huge and unnecessary loss in both fuel and operational costs,” Mohammed Safarulla K., Zonal Officer, KSRTC, said.

Here is a snapshot of the loss incurred:

Originally, there were 95 schedules operating from the Kozhikode depot. But after construction work started in 2009, 40 schedules were moved to five depots at Mananthavady, Thamarassery, Thiruvambady, Vadakara and even Thalassery due to lack of convenience to park the buses.

This change has led to ‘dead mail service’ operations on these 40 schedules.

That is, buses, after offloading passengers at Kozhikode city, are forced to proceed to these five depots. Mostly, there will be no passengers during this last leg because of the untimely hours. The KSRTC is losing Rs. 50,000 to this ‘dead mail services’ every day, the statistics reveal.

Even buses plying the rest of the 55 schedules have no room at the moffussil stand. After offloading passengers at the stand, the buses have to make their way to a temporary depot at Pavangad, located eight km away from the city.

Currently, KSRTC’s workshop and administrative offices are located in Pavangad. This is a 2.43-acre land rented from the Kerala Water Authority.

“An empty bus goes all the way to park at Pavangad depot. The same empty bus returns the next morning to pick up passengers at the moffussil stand. That is a total of 16 km of empty run everyday,” Mr. Safarulla said.

Zonal office statistics shows that a single bus burns 8 litres of diesel on this to-and-fro journey to Pavangad and back. Thus, a total loss of 220 litres of diesel is caused everyday for the nearly five years.

Again, after construction work began, the fuel pump at the old Kozhikode depot at Mavoor Road was pulled down. Instead, buses had to go all the way to pumps located in high-range depots at Sulthan Bathery, Kalpetta and Mananthavady in Wayanad.

Moreover, with KSRTC losing its status as a bulk purchaser, it has also lost its commission of Re. 1 for every litre of diesel supplied.

“Per day, we need 4,000 litres of diesel for operations in north Kerala. Without the commission, we are losing Rs. 4,000 every day,” a senior official said. Besides, services are scattered all over the city. A small counter at Mananchira controls the ordinary bus services numbering to 100 trips a day while long distance operations are based at the Moffussil bus stand. Over 300 buses pass through Kozhikode every day, officials say.

“We are suffering because we hope we will be able to move to a reasonably better place once the complex is completed,” a senior staffer at the zonal office said.

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