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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

UP Roadways bus accident: Unfavourable work conditions make it difficult for drivers

The UP Roadways has more than twice the number of contract drivers compared to the regular drivers – 14,700 contract drivers and 6039 regular drivers.

lucknow Updated: Jul 10, 2019 14:11 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Mangled remains of a UP Roadways bus after it fell into a drain off the Yamuna Expressway near Agra, killing 29 passengers,  July 8, 2019.
Mangled remains of a UP Roadways bus after it fell into a drain off the Yamuna Expressway near Agra, killing 29 passengers, July 8, 2019. (PTI )
         

Twenty-five-year old Suraj Kumar Mishra was recruited as driver in the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) six months ago and has been driving a ‘knackered’ bus between Lucknow and Prayagraj.

“I am on contract, hence salary is quite low, and if something happens to me, who will feed my family,” he said while expressing sadness over Monday’s Yamuna Expressway bus accident.

“These buses do not have even basic facilities for the staff. They do not have even a fan and drivers are forced to drive in sweltering heat. And during rains, water seeps through the leaking roof”, Mishra said.

Incidentally, the contract drivers are more than twice the number of regular drivers – 14,700 contract drivers and 6039 regular drivers.

“We have to deal with many issues at one time. A little distraction can prove fatal. Driving a bus in summers, that too without a fan, is almost impossible but we do it,” said Naresh Kumar, another contract driver, an hour before he left for Delhi.

“I have read about the expressway accident where driver is said to have dozed off. I think he did not have the experience to drive Janrath buses. Since he was neither used to the bus nor the route, this accident occurred,” Naresh added.

There are drivers who have been driving old buses. “If I am asked to drive a Volvo or Janrath or some other luxury or AC bus, the sudden change will make me uncomfortable,” said Avdhesh Gupta, a regular driver.

“It is said that the driver of the ill-fated bus was not used to Janrath buses and the smooth route like the expressway,” said a driver, requesting anonymity. “The authorities have to understand the technical issues. In the name of on job, we can’t put people’s lives in danger,” he said.

Also Read | Yamuna Expressway bus accident: Non-functional GPS device, no record of speed

CAUSES OF STRESS

There are two types of drivers in UPSRTC -- regular and contract. Contract drivers are paid Rs 1.36 per km as wages. “To earn little more, some drivers do overtime, which is sometimes a risky affair,” said Naresh Kumar.

“I am paid Rs 1.36 per km as wages. I am always thinking how I will survive with a family of five people,” said driver Sanjay Mishra. There is no job security and authorities can sack us on the basis of a simple complaint.

“Either we think about the buses and or about our family. Sometimes, we see our family members after the gap of two days,” said Braj Kumar, a driver.

RM Tripathi, spokesperson of the employees’ union representing drivers and conductors, said: “We have to give better atmosphere to drivers so that they can work without any stress. We are opposed to sudden change of duty roaster. A driver who is used to rural routes or normal buses should not be sent on luxury buses on expressways.”

First Published: Jul 10, 2019 14:11 IST

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