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Drivers disrupt bus service in city

Bhubaneswar, April 14: The city bus service has been badly hit with a large numbers of drivers and conductors not reporting for duty in the last two days.

Sources said out of 70 buses, nearly 30 have stopped plying on the roads. On the other hand, the company — Dream Team Sahara — which owns the town buses, has already lodged a complaint with the government stating that a few errant drivers were trying to disrupt the service at the behest of some unruly elements.

The service between KIIT Square and Uttara, Nandakanan and Airport and Nuagoan and Phulankara has been badly affected.

The drivers alleged that Dream Team Sahara, which had engaged the drivers for eight-hour schedules, forced them to work them for 13 hours.

“We leave home at 7am and return at 10pm. At the end of the month, we get just Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 as salary. It is not possible to work on such a meagre salary,” said a driver.

While many of the drivers have aired their grievances, others preferred to remain quiet fearing action against them.

“Even the company does not pay overtime allowance. If they don’t pay the allowance, they should not expect us to work for such a long time at a stretch,” said another driver.

Senior driver Rabi Naryan Mishra said: “The company has forced us to work for a period of 13 hours but pay the money for eight hours only.”

The drivers also said that it would be impossible for them to maintain their family for just Rs 5,000. “I have three daughters. If I spend even Rs 100 per day for meeting the daily expenses, it will not be possible for me to take a home on rent to live in the city. They should give us overtime allowances,” said a driver.

The bus conductors also argued on the same line. “We cannot live with the meagre salary of Rs 4,500,” said a conductor.

Most of the bus drivers and conductors have taken leave and abstained from reporting to duty.

Ramakanta Mishra, a passenger said he had to wait for 45 minutes to get a bus to Uttara Square.

“There is no time table board from which one can get the information as to when the bus services will start,” Mishra added.

The town bus service was commenced in the capital city from October 10, 2010. At present, buses are running on seven routes across the city. The state government procured the buses with financial assistance from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Later, the state government formed the Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Limited (BPSL), which signed an agreement with Dream Team Shahara, a local transport company, to run the bus service in Bhubaneswar and Puri.

The stakeholders of BPSL include the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Orissa State Road Transport Corporation, Puri-Konark Development Authority and the Puri Municipality.

Nishikanta Mishra, chief of Dream Team Sahara, said: “We have already lodged the complaint with the BPTCL and asked them to take police action against six to seven drivers who had lost their services and tried to create all sorts of problems.”

Mishra further added that the company had already informed the drivers that the overtime allowances would be given on May 1 on Labour Day.

“Every month, the company incurs a loss of Rs 3 lakh. We have been prepared to incur losses. If any indiscipline is found, we will be forced to stop plying the bus services. A few trade union leaders and auto owner want such disturbances to mar the bus service,” he added.

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