BEST dithers in securing buses with CCTVs

It has been over five years since the BEST undertaking decided to cover its entire fleet of 4,700 buses under CCTV surveillance,but it has not managed to equip even 50 per cent of buses with CCTV cameras.

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Published: July 2, 2012 2:56 am

It has been over five years since the BEST undertaking decided to cover its entire fleet of 4,700 buses under CCTV surveillance,but it has not managed to equip even 50 per cent of buses with CCTV cameras. The decision,taken in March 2007,was prompted after several terror attacks on Mumbai’s public transport system.

Last year,in the backdrop of the July 13 triple blasts — one of them at a BEST bus stop in Dadar — the utility had decided to expedite the process of installing CCTV cameras. However,in the past year,it has been able to bring only about 600-700 additional buses under CCTV surveillance.

“We are facing a lot of technological problems. Our buses are of different makes and there are issues,such as how to best mount the cameras in buses,” said a senior BEST official in charge of traffic. “Besides the CCTVs,we are equipping the buses with LCD screens,GPS and GPRS. So,it is taking some time,” the official said.

Currently,around 2,200 of the buses are under CCTV surveillance. Every bus has two cameras with a hard disk that records data for the day. The footage is retained for about three of four days,after which it automatically gets erased. BEST now plans to complete the task by December this year. That will be daunting,given that 2,500 buses are still without CCTV cameras and hard disk.

Sunil Ganacharya,a member on the BEST management committee,said the main reason for the delay is that the contract for getting the CCTVs installed is not payment bound. It is a barter system where the company,Verve Compusoft,gets the BEST buses fitted with surveillance cameras,LCD screens,GPS and GPRS in return for advertising rights on the screens in the buses.

BEST,whose transport division posted losses of Rs 510 crore in 2011-12,entered into barter deals not just for CCTV cameras but also for equipping its buses with damage-proof toughened glass and public information system. In return,BEST offers them advertising rights. “We are asking the company to get it done fast,but they are taking time because they have to tie up their finances considering they are not getting any money out of this,” he said.

“It could have probably been faster if BEST had a payment-bound contract,but at the time this idea was proposed,it had no money for the investment. BEST’s financial condition is still fragile,” he added.

BEST initially had a similar deal with Emnet Samsara,which installed the equipment in 1,400-odd buses,but the contract was terminated last year and given to Verve Compusoft.

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