Punjab Roadways buses plying on worn-out tyres, old parts
According to Punjab Roadways employees, spare parts such as batteries, gear box, self alternator and engine oil, are among half a dozen other items that are in short supply for the past three months.
Thousands of passengers travel via Punjab Roadways buses daily, but who guarantees their safety when the means of travel is a potential deathtrap? A shortage of tyres at the state transport department for the past three months has these buses plying on the roads with worn-out tyres and outdated spare parts.
Putting passengers at constant risk, the department allocated merely 54 tyres in September for a fleet of 1,870 buses (including PUNBUS) plying from 18 depots.
Until five months back, the Ludhiana depot that is the busiest among all, got 40 tyres per month for 130 buses. But in September, it received only eight tyres while in August it got 10. The permitted lot varies between 25 and 40 tyres every month. Shockingly, the depot has not received even a single tyre to date in October.
SHORT OF ESSENTIAL SPARE PARTS TOO
According to Punjab Roadways employees, even spare parts such as batteries, gear box, self alternator and engine oil, are among half a dozen other items that are in short supply for the past three months.
However, transport officials claimed that they allocated tyres according to the requirements stated by the general manager of the each depot. They also hinted that some depots might be overstocked due to which their monthly stock was curtailed.
Director, state transport, Bhupinder Singh Rai, said, “We have sent a notice to CEAT, (company supplies tyres to under a contract) about the short supply. They may have curtailed the production for reasons best known to them.”
“There are viability and quality concerns regarding the procurement of tyres from a third party. It will also be expensive, ranging up to Rs 1,000 for one tyre. We are exploring the option to procure tyres from a private company now,” he added.
Gursewak Singh Rajpal, general manager of Punjab Roadways, Ludhiana, took a different view on the same issue. “The supply of tyres and spare parts were curtailed due to the GST (Goods and Services Tax). Things will be streamlined after sometime.”
The tyres of a bus need to be replaced after covering a distance of around 40,000km on plain roads that often takes three to four months. For hilly terrain, the threshold limit is around 20,000km.
Harnam Singh (name changed), a driver for Punjab Roadways, said, “Driving a bus with worn-out tyres and old spare parts puts the lives of passengers at risk. After reaching its threshold limit, the tyre may burst and the bus can overturn. We got a regular supply of tyres and other spare parts when the previous government was in power, but things have gone from bad to worse now. There are days when we have to wait for more than two weeks to change the engine oil.”