In a welcome respite for commuters, bus services were partially resumed on certain routes in the twin-city from Saturday after a hiatus of more than six months. In a major setback to the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC), the Bombay High Court on Thursday had allowed the private bus operator to commence bus services.
After extended rounds of deliberations, the MBMC had terminated the contract of the private operator Bhagirathi Trans Corporation. The operator sought judicial intervention against the abrupt termination. The court not only allowed the petitioner to resume bus services but also directed the police to provide adequate security to the employees.
“We will present our side before the court in the next hearing to be held on 20, October. As of now we have given a schedule of 21 buses to be operated on eight routes including Uttan, Thane and Borivali. A meeting will be held with the operator and worker unions to ensure that duties are allotted on a rotational basis,” said deputy civic chief Ajit Muthe.
The public transport authority has 430 contractual employees who are affiliated to three different unions. Most of the employees are still unhappy over the compromise formula. "As a mark of respect for the judiciary and taking into mind the difficulties faced by commuters, we are back to work with a hope that we will not be deprived of our justified rights,” said Kailash Patil, a ticket checker.
Bus services have been in limbo since March, due to the imposition of lockdown. After running just five out of the 70 buses on two out of the 17 routes following unlock, bus services were abruptly terminated, leaving commuters on the mercy of auto-rickshaws. An average of 40,000 commuters travelled in and out of the twin-city on a daily basis before the lockdown. As per new norms, the buses will be allowed 50 per cent accommodation.
Cops play key role:
In wake of the judicial orders, top civic and police officials held a meeting with the private operator and the striking employees to resolve the deadlock. The police officials played a pro-active role in ensuring that an amicable solution was churned out. “In accordance with judicial orders we under the guidance of commissioner Sadanand Date have provided adequate security cover to ensure that buses operate smoothly without any obstacles,” said ACP Vilas Sanap who personally supervised the arrangements on Saturday.