The PMPML bus service was thrown out of gear on Thursday after drivers of the private buses, which are on contract to the public transport body, went on strike to protest the “injustice” due to the penalty levied by the PMPML administration.
After the drivers declared the strike, as many as 653 buses of five contractors went off the roads from Thursday afternoon, leaving the PMPML administration scrambling to manage their own fleet.
“To resume the service as early as possible, we are holding discussions with the agitating drivers. Meanwhile, all the drivers employed by the PMPML are being asked to work for additional hours…,” said an officer of the transport body.
The contractors said the PMPML administration, led by CMD Tukaram Mundhe, had imposed a penalty of Rs 9 crore within 15 days on buses belonging to private contractors, which had failed to stop at bus stops despite specific instructions to do so. The PMPML administration has been tracking the movement of buses through the GPS installed on each vehicle.
The drivers have been protesting against the contractor’s decision to recover the penalty charged by the PMPML administration through them, on the grounds that the drivers’ “mistakes” were the reason behind incurring the penalty. However, the drivers claimed that there were problems with the GPS and it didn’t function accurately.
On Wednesday, the ruling BJP in the Pune Municipal Corporation had demanded the ouster of Mundhe for “failing to improve the services” of the public transport company, and skipping a meeting called by Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak to discuss issues related to the PMPML.