Unsafe journey: 30% BEST buses don’t have fire extinguishers on-board
3,800 BEST buses carry around 30 lakh commuters travel daily. The absence of basic safety equipment such as fire extinguishers is putting their lives at risk, say expertsmumbai Updated: May 12, 2017 09:22 IST
Thousands of Mumbai commuters consider BEST buses affordable, but a recent right to information (RTI) query reveals that they might be unsafe. As many as 1,150 of BEST’s 3,800-strong fleet do not have a fire extinguisher on-board.
Though the BEST administration had decided to install fire extinguishers in all buses, starting with those running on compressed natural gas (CNG), it installed extinguishers in only 2,648 buses by January 2017, revealed the RTI.
“As the 1,150 buses run on diesel, the transport commissioner exempted us from installing extinguishers in them. CNG-operated buses get first preference,” said Hanumant Gophane, BEST spokesperson.
Sharique Raza Shaikh, the activist who filed the RTI, said he asked the transport body how it planned to ensure the safety of women and senior citizens during emergencies.
“BEST reserves seats for women and the elderly, but has not made arrangements for their safety. Several buses do not have first aid boxes and have not listed emergency helplines for senior citizens,” said said.
Several BEST buses have caught fire in the past. Recently, eight passengers had a narrow escape after a BEST bus travelling towards Chakala in Andheri (East) caught fire earlier this year. The BEST administration had ordered a probe into the incident.
“It is mandatory to install a fire extinguisher in each bus under the Motor Vehicles Act. But, most of the buses do not have one,” said Ravi Raja, BEST committee member.