Thiruvananthapuram: Indifference of authorities facilitates the private inter-bus services to escape the penal provisions in law. As per prevailing norm, buses are released after they are fined if caught for violating laws. Exploiting this provision, the buses that get caught slip out after remitting meagre amounts of fine.
There are around 500 contract carriages operating inter-state services in Kerala. As per data available on a day ago, 3,457 cases are registered against erring buses. On an average, 120-130 cases are registered per day. Around six lakh rupees are collected as fine per day. One may be wondering how 500 buses can have 3,457 cases. The reason is, that buses keeping evading laws after remitting fines for which they usually have a reserve fund on hand before the trip.
Thus illegal services continueby remitting fines even prior to the trip.
As per data availed on Monday, the collected fine amount crossed Rs. 1 crore. Buses had stopped services for a while after checking was made stricter and services were cut to one-third. However, thesituation changed later on.
Despite the claims of strict checking and actions, contract carriages are plying left, right and centre without let or hindrance.
Motor Vehicle Department is conducting daily inspections. Buses are stopped mid-way and fined. The inspection is done at the starting point of journey. Rs. 5, 000 is fined for journey using ticket and for picking up passengers from all stations.
Though LAPD License (Licenced Agent for Public Transport) had been made mandatory for booking agencies, most of the services do not comply with it.
Hence, though inspections and fines continue on the one hand, Motor Vehicles Department could not curb the contract carriages.
In this scenario, the department is planning to impound buses. At the same time, there will be no alternative system if all buses are banned from roads and passengers will protest.
Though KSRTC tried to field contract carriages by hiring them on rent basis, the effort was throttled due to the interference of the private lobby. The corporation has decided to invite tenders again. The Motor Vehicle department says that strict action will be taken once alternative systems are ensured.