Hope for Dhanbad buses
The local civic authority has initiated the process to re-launch the city bus service, inviting proposals from agencies to operate, maintain and manage the fleet that has been all but grounded for over a month now.
Of the 75 buses, only five are running now, operated by self-help groups.
Dhanbad Municipal Corporation (DMC) plans to start the service with 10 of the 65 grounded buses. The remaining vehicles would be added to the operations gradually, depending on the success of the attempt.
“We will be running only 10 city buses that are in good condition. Gradually, we will operate other buses, but most of them are in bad shape. Some are beyond repair,” DMC commissioner Chandramohan Kashyap said.
DMC is looking to start the service sometime after August 14, the last date for opening tenders.
As many as 20 city buses were running till June 16 when the service was stopped as three-year contracts with three agencies expired.
“We did not renew the contract with the previous contractors due to gross financial misappropriation and pending dues amounting to Rs 10 lakh,” said DMC programme officer Ravi Kumar, who is in charge of the city bus service.
He said the new agency that would be selected to run the service would be responsible for maintaining the buses and managing the service which would be periodically reviewed by DMC.
“We had fixed a rental of Rs 170 per day per bus for vehicles operating on the Dhanbad-Katras route. The rental was Rs 100 per day for buses on the Dhanbad-Sindri route and Rs 45 per day for buses running on the Dhanbad-Karmdaha route. But contractors weren’t paying us on the pretext of losses, compelling us to withdraw the buses and initiate the process to recover dues,” Kumar explained.
The city bus service was launched in Dhanbad on August 9, 2010 with 24 buses as a pilot project with help from Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC).
Though the number of buses was gradually increased to 70, the service was never stable because of a host of problems that included repeated strikes by drivers and conductors to protest against delayed salaries, expired bus permits, poor or zero maintenance of buses leading to recurrent technical snags and non-allotment of stoppages leading to disputes with traffic policemen.