PMPML drivers’ flash strike leaves commuters stranded

Auto Operators Make Most Of The Situation
Public transport in the city was crippled on Thursday afternoon after nearly 1,300 drivers of 653 contract buses went on a flash strike.The strike sent officials of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) scrambling for alternatives to ensure daily commuters were unaffected, like asking full-time drivers to work overtime to contain the situation.

The authorities have threatened the private contractors with the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) if they do not get their buses b ack on the roads. “We have issued notices to private contractors to adhere to our agreement and resume service, or action will be taken under provisions of ESMA,“ PMPML chief Tukaram Mundhe told TOI.

Around 1,200 buses are on the road at the moment, but commuters say that doesn’t really help. “A few buses stop, while a few others don’t.PMPML should ensure buses arrive soon. Why doesn’t this transport system improve?“ said Gulabchand Sancheti.

“Auto drivers are charging over Rs200 for a trip that should cost only Rs120. This is a major hassle,“ said Baturao Hande, who had waited for a bus to Bibvewadi for more than 40 minutes.

PMPML had over the last two months fined the private contractors Rs14 crore for a range of issues, including bus breakdowns and skipping stops. With Mundhe refusing to relent on this, the contrac tors said they had passed on half the burden to their drivers, prompting the strike.

“We had no choice but to tell our drivers that that 50% of the penalty amount would have to be borne by them,“ said Jimmy John, who works for a private contractor that runs 103 buses.

A driver, on the condition of anonymity , told TOI that they were being treated unfairly. “PMPML wrongly fined us. We get Rs15,000-16,000 per month, and our salaries were delayed. Moreover, PMPML took no action against the conductors, who are also in the buses,“ he said.

PMPML has asked its drivers to work overtime to contain the situation. “No one in the PMPML helpline is telling me anything concrete. Why can’t these people give proper information to the people?“ said Mohnish Pawar, who waited for a bus to Bopkhel for more than an hour. Mayor to meet CM on Mundhe Pune: Mayor Mukta Tilak on Thursday said she will meet CM Devendra Fadnavis during his visit to Pune on July 7 and share with him the “problems“ with PMPML chairman and managing director Tukaram Mundhe.

“I will not write any letter against Mundhe to the chief minister. I will meet him in person and talk to him about the issue. Mundhe has to attenm meetings and share with us the developments in the PMPML. Many times, we forward him people’s complaints. But no action is taken. He had agreed to attend Wednesday’s standing committee meeting, but didn’t turn up. We just want to have a dialogue with him,“ the mayor told TOI.

Source : TOI