Road transport utilities seek support from government to pay staff

April 16, 2020 11:04 pm | Updated 11:04 pm IST - Bengaluru

BMTC buses parked near the KSRTC depot in Bengaluru during the COVID-19 lockdown.

BMTC buses parked near the KSRTC depot in Bengaluru during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The four road transport corporations in the State have approached the government seeking financial assistance to pay their employees for April. As buses have remained off the road for nearly a month, the financial health of the corporations — KSRTC, BMTC, NWKRTC, and NEKRTC — has further deteriorated.

KSRTC managing director Shivayogi C. Kalasad told The Hindu that the four corporations together had 1.3 lakh employees on their rolls. “We need financial support of ₹364 crore to pay salaries for the month of April. Both the KSRTC and BMTC have sought more than ₹100 crore each.”

Following government orders, the utilities have stopped operations, barring skeleton services for those carrying out essential services. Mr. Kalasad said, “Across the country, road transport corporations are facing financial issues. Like us, they have approached their respective State governments seeking support. Deputy Chief Minister and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi has assured us that the State government will find a way to support the corporations.” For the past week, because of the lack of operations, the KSRTC has incurred a revenue loss of over ₹253 crore.

BMTC managing director C. Shikha told The Hindu that the fare box is the primary source of revenue for salaries. “For the previous month, the BMTC managed to pay the salary of its employees as we operated buses till March 21. Our operations have been stopped for close to a month now. As there is no revenue source, we have approached the State government,” she said.

Even before the lockdown, road transport corporations were in financial distress owing to increasing operational costs such as the rise in fuel price over the years. They have been incurring losses of more than ₹1,000 crore a year.

Long-term effect

The bus corporations are likely to feel for many months the impact of the current restrictions, which will be lifted, at the earliest, only on May 3. They have had to defer the tender process for leasing e-buses and other projects.

Some officials feel that even if the lockdown is lifted, governments may impose certain riders by limiting the number of passengers per bus, in order to maintain social distancing. Others believe that premier services like AC buses may not be allowed to operate in the initial days.

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