Apparently miffed over the stubbornness of the private bus operator, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has finally rolled up its sleeves to shoulder the responsibility of running the public transport utility on its own.
Apart from demanding reimbursement payments for services that were not rendered during the lockdown period, the private operator-Bhagirathi Trans Corporation (BTC) has been dictating its terms by demanding exorbitant charges towards revised pricing structure due to the limited seating arrangements in accordance to physical distancing rules which were in-place to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
After much reluctance, the operator finally resumed the public transport facility from August 14. However, after running just five out of the 70 buses on two of the 17 routes, the private operator abruptly terminated the services on Tuesday, leaving countless commuters at the mercy of auto-rickshaws and private cabs for their journey in and out of the twin-city.
“This is really absurd. Why should the commuters suffer due to the tug-of-war between the civic body and the private operator,” charged BJP corporator- Adv Ravi Vyas who has requested the civic administration to run the bus fleet on its own. When contacted deputy civic chief- Ajit Muthe said, “Yes we are fine tuning arrangements to restart the bus services on our own till the deadlock is resolved.”
As a stop-gap arrangement, the MBMC plans to operate the bus fleet on the virtue of contractual staff including drivers, conductors, and ticket checkers provided by manpower supply agencies.
"We are ready to ply buses, but the administration is neither releasing our pending arrears nor inking a supplementary agreement in context to revised fares for limited seat arrangements," said Manohar Sakpal of BTC.
On the virtue of support by a section of influential leaders in the BJP-led governance, BTC had managed to bag a contract for operating MBMC’s bus fleet on a Net Cost Contract model, topped up with an additional viable gap feature to balance fiscal management aimed at providing a viable and convenient public transport system. However, the operator has always been in the news-mostly for wrong reasons. Around 350 workers are up in arms against the agency for not paying their wages for the past five months.