Updated: August 5, 2021 10:46:45 pm
Two days after the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) floated a tender to hire 500 buses on rent from private bus operators, the state transport (ST) bus employees’ unions have raised objections to the decision, calling it a step towards privatisation of the corporation. The Union leaders said they would approach court if the corporation does not roll back its decision.
In a previous meeting of MSRTC board of directors, a resolution for hiring ordinary (non-AC and non-luxurious) buses on rent from private operators was passed. Following this, on Tuesday, a tender to select a private operator was floated to hire the BS VI Model HSD ordinary buses for over seven years on rent.
The pre-bid meeting for the tender will be held on August 17.
MSRTC officials claimed that the lifespan of a total of 5,000 buses in the corporation’s fleet have got over due to which there was a shortage of buses. Since the corporation is in losses and cannot afford to buy new buses, it is important to get them on hire, they added.
Even as the MSRTC maintains that the move was just a measure to cut losses, the workers’ union claimed it was being done to hand over the corporation to private bus operators.
According to the unions, every year the life span of a few hundred buses ends and a budget is sanctioned to bring in new vehicles to replace the old ones. For the past few years, the new buses haven’t been bought and the budget sanctioned to buy the buses have been used for some other purpose, said a union leader. The unions alleged that due to this, life span of more than 5,000 vehicles in the 19,000-strong fleet has come to an end and the corporation is in dire need of new vehicles.
“If buses had been constructed in the central workshops of ST by purchasing new chassis from time to time using the allocated budget, the question of renting vehicles would not have arisen,” said Sandeep Shinde, president of ST corporation union.
The corporation, which runs inter- as well as intra-district public transport services, had been facing a cash crunch before the lockdown too, with a debt burden of over Rs 3,500 crore. The shutting down of services during the lockdowns last year and in 2021 has seen this deficit shoot up to Rs 9,500 crore.
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