P. Sujatha Varma
Nearly Rs. 2 lakh worth of jewellery from the suitcase was stolen from a passenger
RTC to re-introduce coupon system to check thefts
VIJAYAWADA: The string of ‘stealth operations’ being carried out, of late, with remarkable ease on board the Garuda buses of AP State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) in Vijayawada region have sown seeds of suspicion in the minds of commuters. The daylight thefts have made the commuters distrustful of their fellow passengers.
Instances of unscrupulous elements infiltrating into the bus, stealing objects and properties and getting out with the subtlety of a flickering shadow have become all too common for the travellers to overlook.
Latest in the list of such occurrences is the shocking theft of gold jewellery estimated to cost nearly Rs. 2 lakhs from the suitcase of a Hyderabad-bound woman in a Garuda service last week.
The victim, Lokeswari, wife of a real estate agent from Paloncha, kept gold ornaments weighing 230 grams in a suitcase and dismounted from the vehicle to hand over the remaining luggage to the caretaker of the side box.
The woman was aghast to find the ornaments missing when she returned to her seat and opened the suitcase. Reacting to the thefts, the local RTC authorities held the contractor concerned responsible for the state of affairs.
“We have outsourced the responsibility of handling passengers’ luggage in Garuda services to a private party.
We have also made the contractor concerned reimburse lost property in similar cases in the past,” says M. Sitapathi, the Regional Manager of the corporation.
On its part, the RTC authorities have appointed 12 home guards in addition to private security personnel deployed in the Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS). “We have also decided to re-introduce the coupon system for safeguarding the luggage of the passengers.
Under this system, a coupon with a number is given to the owner of the baggage while another one with the same number is kept with the caretaker. The caretaker will hand over the baggage only after the owner produces the coupon,” explains Mr. Sitapathi. It is just a happenstance that the 14-odd surveillance cameras installed at vantage points in the PNBS over seven years ago have stopped functioning. Nearly 1.17 lakh people use this ever-busy bus station every day and the crowds swell up to nearly 1.25 lakh during festival season and vacations. Mr. Sitapathi says, “the cameras too will be replaced in a couple of months.”