At a time when the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) is grappling with shortage of buses, the wait for purchase of 98 new ones has been further delayed as the UT administration has cancelled the tenders yet again, the fourth time in the past two years. Opposition to the five-year maintenance clause is said to be the main reason for cancellation, as manufacturers have reportedly refused to accept the terms.
Against a sanctioned fleet of 517, the CTU is managing it affairs with 315 buses.
Sources said manufactures were asked to take responsibility of maintenance of buses up to five years or 4 lakh km, whichever is earlier. The clause included carrying out preventive maintenance, breakdown rep airs, major reconditioning of aggregates and servicing, besides day-to-day body repairs for the complete bus. At least twice the tenders had to be cancelled due to the 10-year maintenance clause, which was watered down by half in the last and the latest tenders but still remains a bone of contention. Plus, the demand to deliver buses in 120 days also became a thorn.
It was in June that the latest tenders were invited for purchase of 98 fully built low-floor buses - 49 of them air-conditioned - for which Tata Motors, Volvo and Ashok Leyland expressed interest. But the disagreement was too grave, it is learnt, and the financial bids weren't even opened. Similarly, tenders were invited in March, and twice last year.
The administration is learnt to be contemplating dropping the maintenance clause, though CTU director TPS Phoolka only said that revised tenders "will be floated very shortly". He refused to divulge details of changes.
Lashing out at the administration, president of CTU Workers' Union Bhupinder Singh said that the public was suffering due to delay in procurement of new buses: "With low frequency of buses, most are crowded."
RUNNING SHORT DESPITE MONEY
*The CTU has sanction for a fleet of 517, but is managing with 315 buses that carry over 1 lakh people every day. Of those on the road, 117 buses have completed their logical lifespan of eight years, but the CTU is forced to use these after getting approvals.
*There are around 100 routes covered by CTU in the tricity, and the shortage of buses has led to reduction of frequency of buses on the designated routes on daily basis.
*In the last financial year, administration earmarked `45 crore for new buses which could not be spent; in current fiscal, Centre allocated `131 crore for 150 new buses to replace those that have completed their lifespan.