Last Updated: February 24, 2023, 08:31 IST
Sunil Ganacharya, former BEST committee member, said the lack of BEST’s control over the maintenance of leased buses was the cause of such incidents (Rep image: PTI)
In view of incidents involving TATA CNG buses operated by M/S Mateshwari Ltd, BEST has decided to take all 400 buses off roads till the OEM (original manufacturer) and operator take necessary corrective measures
Mumbai’s civic transport body Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) on Wednesday said it was taking 400 leased buses off roads after a third incident of a leased CNG bus catching fire occurred within one month.
The latest incident of a leased CNG bus catching fire took place in Andheri East around 6.55 pm. No one was injured as the bus on route 415 caught fire after the passengers had got down outside the Andheri railway station, officials said.
In view of these incidents involving TATA CNG buses operated by M/S Mateshwari Ltd, BEST has decided to take all 400 buses off roads till the OEM (original manufacturer) and operator take necessary corrective measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future, said BEST general manager Lokesh Chandra in a statement.
“Though it may cause inconvenience to commuters, public safety is of utmost importance to BEST and we can not compromise on that. There may be some changes in the schedules due to this,” Chandra said.
BEST provides public bus service to Mumbai city and neighbouring areas. It has a fleet of around 3,500 buses including more than 400 single decker e-buses. Daily, more than 30 lakh commuters travel on BEST buses.
A few months ago, BEST had terminated the contract of another bus operator who had wet-leased mini buses, citing poor service.
The number of buses available for service could go down below 3,000 now.
On January 25, a CNG bus hired from Mateshwari caught fire in Bandra West, while another CNG bus of the same operator caught fire at Chakala junction in Andheri East on February 11.
In the incident on Wednesday evening outside Andheri station, the bus was completely gutted before the two fire engines and a jumbo tanker of the Mumbai fire brigade doused the blaze within 15-20 minutes after it started.
“The bus was overcrowded when it reached the spot. As soon as the passengers got down, the bus caught fire,” a BEST official said.
Sunil Ganacharya, former BEST committee member, said the lack of BEST’s control over the maintenance of leased buses was the cause of such incidents.
“BEST administration and particularly the engineering department has no control over the maintenance of leased buses as they have not recruited trained staff for the last 10 years and no promotions and incentives given to the existing staff. As a result there is lethargy,” Ganacharya said, adding that the public transport body should also reconsider its policy on hiring private buses.
Ravi Raja, another former BEST committee member, said it is a “serious issue” and demanded that BEST administration pay attention to passengers’ safety as BEST is the “second lifeline of Mumbai” after the local train network.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)