A city bus waits for passengers near Dhanbad station on Friday. Picture by Gautam Dey
The Dhanbad district administration on Thursday constituted a committee, headed by subdivisional officer Lal Mohan Mahto, to look into the poor city bus service.
The committee, which also has DSP (traffic) P.C. Jha and district transport officer Ravi Raj Sharma as its members, will soon hold a meeting with Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation’s (JTDC) city bus in-charge, Dhanbad, Surendra Manjhi and finance manager T.N. Singh. The members will also hold talks with drivers, conductors and officer-bearers of private agency Rider Security Service that runs the fleet in the coal town.
“The committee will carry out weekly review of the functioning of the buses and take corrective action if necessary. It will also try and find out ways to create more bus stops,” said district transport officer (DTO) Ravi Raj Sharma.
The city bus project in Dhanbad, which was launched in September 2010 under the millennium city project of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, has run into loses, not to speak of frequent disruption of services, thanks to repeated strikes by drivers and conductors over a host of demands, including pay.
At present, only 18 of the 70 existing vehicles are on the roads. The rest are lying grounded at Bartand bus stand for various reasons like non-functional batteries, technical snag in engines etc. These apart, five buses were sent to Deoghar last June to cope with the rush of kanwariyas during Shravani Mela.
The JTDC authorities have time and again blamed traffic policemen for their low revenue from passenger fares, as the buses are not allowed to stop randomly to pick up people. Hence, the call for more bus stops.
Recently, the JTDC set the precondition that the drivers and conductors of the buses would have to pay the corporation Rs 14 for every kilometre covered, failing which the buses would not be allowed to ply.
“The drivers deliberately allow ticket-less travel on the buses so that they can pocket the fare coughed up by the passenger, thus causing severe loses to JTDC. From now on, we will monitor the buses and will carry out surprise inspection to find out whether any passenger is travelling without ticket,” said Sharma.
Traffic DSP P.C. Jha, on the other hand, promised to extend all kinds of help to ensure smooth running of the buses.
“We expect the situation to improve after constitution of the committee. We have also requested our top brass in Ranchi to talk to the municipal authorities to designate more stops in Dhanbad,” Manjhi said.