EDITORIAL

Faulty public transport!

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Every evening people can be seen cursing the administration when they have to burn holes in their pocket to hire auto-rickshaws for reaching their destinations. The reason being people are not able to find buses because the transporters running minibuses on various routes call off the service at will – and these days they do so fairly early so as to be at their homes well before ‘Iftaar’. While as the transporters seem in no mood to run their services after it gets dark here, but during Ramazan, they do not even wait for the sunset! However, completely unmindful of the problems faced by the people on transport front, the concerned government agencies are doing nothing to alleviate their inconvenience. Be it the Transport department or for that matter the Traffic Police, or the respective District administrations -- no one is doing anything to help the people.

In such a situation, it sounds pretty logical to question the utility of Transport department when it does nothing to help the people in their time of need? And, why should the state exchequer be paying for the salaries and other privileges and perks of a full-fledged Traffic Police wing or Transport department when these agencies have earned enough notoriety of being ‘good for nothing’? Why have a ‘white-elephant’ in the shape of State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) when this department too has nothing substantial to its credit? Whatever is happening here on the transport front, and the amount of hardship that people are facing here because of it, if it would happen elsewhere, the Transport Minister or Transport Commissioner will be forced to resign. But in this “land of unaccountability”, nobody seems to care about the happenings. As long as the sufferers are common people, those in the political and bureaucratic echelons have very little reason to feel bothered. This is at least what is and has always been the style of governance here. Public welfare has hardly ever been a priority. Had it not been so, then of course the public hardship would have moved the governmental agencies, and they would have done something about it.

For the people it is genuine to question the very efficacy of the government if it can’t tame the transporters who otherwise are under contract with it to provide transport facilities to the people. The problem of lack of transport facilities in the evenings has been duly highlighted by media and the concerned agencies have also assured on numerous occasions that they would look into the matter. But as the situation on ground speaks, so far nothing has been done in this regard. In fact the concerned agencies have mastered a standard reply each time they are asked about the problem: “Let people come to us with formal complaints!” It is ridiculous. Why can’t concerned officials come out on streets in the evenings and check for themselves the kind of hardships that people have to brave once it gets dark? Or at least they could definitely take a cue from media reports and do the needful instead of bragging about their hollow boasts.

Government will have to take the public grievances seriously and do something about their problems. May be getting out the SRTC buses on roads can help. Instead of allowing these buses to rot in junkyards, it is better to get them out and thus convey to the private transporters that their arm-twisting tactics are simply unacceptable. Paying the transporters back in their own coin can be another way out. Those calling off their services at will could be made to behave through coercion. If the route permits of few transporters are cancelled, it will serve as warning for others that government means business and that theirs is a public utility service and they are supposed to operate it in accordance with people’s needs and requirements. They cannot operate buses at their sweet choice and will. If the Transport department cannot ensure a smooth and public-friendly transport system here, it has no right to exist.

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