Roadways workers want broken buses fixed ahead of peak summer
Drivers and conductors enrolled with the Haryana Roadways in Gurugram district have raised concerns over the state of buses in their fleet, alleging that they suffer from a range of mechanical problems that pose a threat to passenger safety. Moreover, a lack of skilled mechanics and shortage of funds are only exacerbating the issue, they said.
Sandeep Dalal, a Roadways employee and union worker associated with the Indian National Trade Union Congress, said, “Out of the fleet of 150-odd buses that are maintained in Gurugram, majority of them have some issue or the other. Brakes don’t work properly, engines overheat, gearboxes are jammed. These are extremely serious issues that cannot be taken lightly by the authorities.”
With the summer approaching, employees say that the issue of engine overheating is of particular concern. “If the engine overheats, then it means putting the bus out of service for the day. When this happens, we are blamed by the administration for not meeting our daily targets and sticking to schedules,” Vipin Kamboj, a bus driver, said. He added that overheating can also lead to fires, as was the case two months ago.
On February 13, a bus plying between Gurugram railway station and Huda City Centre caught fire due to its engine overheating near South City 1, in Sector 29, at about 7.30pm. The driver, Sandeep Ahlawat, said, “We quickly evacuated all the passengers and used the onboard fire extinguisher to douse the flames. If the conductor and I had not acted quickly, the outcome could have been grave.”
Earlier, on January 22, a bus plying on the same route met with brake failure near the Huda City Centre Metro station, forcing the driver, Narendra Chikkara, to ram the bus into a divider. “The incident happened around 10am, when the road is very crowded and the bus full. Luckily, I was not driving too fast and was able to halt the bus without injuring anyone,” Chikkara said.
Employees maintained they have raised these concerns with the management, but are yet to see their vehicles receive timely maintenance from qualified professionals. Gaurav Antil, Haryana Roadways’ general manager in Gurugram, said, “It is true that there is a shortage of mechanics, which is why we have now roped in private agencies to whom we are outsourcing maintenance work. The recent mishaps are alarming, but we have responded by scrutinising their work more thoroughly and such incidents will not be repeated.”