INDIAN EXPRESS: Move comes in the wake of January 25 incident in which 8 persons were killed
In the wake of a state transport (ST) bus driver going on rampage on city roads recently, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has directed its drivers to sign a statement that they would take ‘utmost care’ of their buses, turn the ignition key off when not required and drive carefully. The Pune division of the MSRTC has also appointed an additional 14 private guards to look after the buses.
Till such time as the 13 member committee appointed by the MSRTC arrives at a solution to the ‘master key’ problem, the authorities have directed bus drivers to sign a statement that they would look after their buses while they are parked at depots. According to a depot manager with a city ST depot, all drivers have been directed to sign a statement declaring that they will take necessary safety precautions while driving and parking the bus.
The glaring lack of security at the MSRTC bus depots in the city came to light in the January 25 incident, when driver Santosh Mane had hijacked a parked ST bus at the Swargate depot. Mane’s berserk driving led to eight deaths.
“The drivers have been instructed to be take safety measures. Since the January 25 incident, we are taking additional steps to ensure that buses are safe,” said Ashok Jadhav, Pune divisional controller, MSRTC.
The additional security guards will look after the buses parked at each of the four MSRTC stations in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. According to Jadhav, five of the 14 guards have been posted at Swargate, four at Shivajinagar, two at Pune station bus depot and three at Pimpri ST station.
“They will look after the buses at the station and make sure that no one except the assigned driver enters the driver’s cabin. They will monitor entry and exit of the buses and see to it that no other vehicle except ST buses enters the premises,” said Jadhav.
With this, the Swargate depot will now have 11 guards, Shivajinagar will have 10, Pune station depot will have five and Pimpri would have seven guards.
Kin of 2 dead in mishap accept compensation
The MSRTC authorities have managed to convince two of the three families of the deceased in the January 25 incident to accept compensation. The three families had earlier refused to accept the amount. Family members of Pooja Patil — who lost her life in the horrific incident — still refuse to accept the compensation, say MSRTC authorities. On January 27, when MSRTC officials had gone to hand over the compensation to the three families, they had refused to accept the money. Ashok Jadhav, Pune divisional controller, told Newsline that families of Akshay Pise and Milind Gaikwad later agreed to accept the compensation. “I handed over the money to the Pise and Gaikwad a week ago. The family of Patil is yet to accept the compensation,” said Jadhav.