Several wet lease buses in the city are facing maintenance issues. BEST has recently served a notice to the contractor to resolve the maintenance issues of these buses within a month. Most of these buses are facing problems with their cooling systems.
"Over 200 buses belong to a Pune-based firm facing maintenance issues regularly," said a senior officer of BEST, adding that if the company fails to resolve the issue within one month, appropriate action will be taken.
Currently, around 3700 buses daily are operated by BEST undertakings in the city. Of those, around 1800 buses are hired by different private firms on wet lease.
"Out of the 1800 wet lease buses, around 280 buses, which are supplied by a firm, facing maintenance issues," said a senior officer of BEST, adding that a penalty of around Rs three crores has already been imposed on the firm by BEST for delay or unavailability of buses on time.
There are numerous maintenance issues as well as worker issues.
As per contract, the owner of a wet leased bus needs to pay Rs 5000 per bus per day as a penalty in the event of his bus not turning up in service.
Before being put into service, wet-leased buses go through routine checks, including the function of their air-conditioning systems, by a BEST engineer every day. During the check, if any type of serious mechanical defects are found in the bus or in the cooling system ( AC) of the bus, the BEST engineer will reject the bus and, for the convenience of passengers, press other buses on that route.
At the same time, drivers of these wet leased buses are also complaining about several issues related to salary, provident fund and other facilities like medical etc.
According to Shashank Rov, BEST workers union leader, contractual bus drivers of wet-leased buses are paid less than half of what BEST drivers (best employees) are paid, which is not only unfair. BEST administration needs to solve the issue and improve the working conditions of wet-lease bus drivers as well. However, the BEST administration says, paying salary to the drivers is the contractor's responsibility, not the BEST undertaking.