‘Funds must be provided for maintenance’
The demand raised by MLAs to resume Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus services on different routes and to operate buses in coordination with local bodies will be looked into on a priority basis, Transport Minister Antony Raju has said.
The KSRTC was willing to operate buses on routes suggested by local bodies if they provided funds for maintenance, he said at a meeting of MLAs from the district convened here on Friday to discuss issues pertaining to the Transport Department. “This will help feasible operation of buses without incurring loss. This will be akin to the RTC’s Bus on Demand [BOND] initiative,” he said.
On permitting the entry of about 120 mofussil buses from Vypeen into the city, he said a legal issue ought to be overcome by amending the Motor Vehicle Rules. “Back in June, I directed NATPAC to submit a study report in this regard in three months,” he said.
The MLAs sought steps to improve the condition of bus stands and to augment amenities. They demanded extension of Water Metro services to more Greater Kochi areas.
Responding to the MLAs’ demand for steps to strengthen the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA), Mr. Raju said efforts were under way to appoint adequate number of technically qualified personnel to the authority, heeding to a long-pending demand.
Septic tank waste
On being apprised of the grave health issue posed by unscrupulous operators dumping septic tank waste on the wayside and in waterbodies, Mr. Raju directed Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) officials to initiate stern action, including cancellation of lorry permit and suspension of driving licence.
The MLAs also expressed concern about the safety hazards posed by overloaded goods vehicles, the damage they caused to roads, and the sound and air pollution caused by illegally altered vehicles, especially two-wheelers. They took exception to many private vehicles sporting registration number plates with red band to mislead people that those were government vehicles. In addition, vehicles bearing ‘Press’ sticker and ambulances were being used for many illegal activities. Mr. Raju directed MVD personnel to step up vigilance and to bring such motorists to book.
Eldhose Kunnappilly, MLA, demanded the setting up of a modern computerised driving test track of the Perumbavoor Sub RTO office in vacant land of the Muvattupuzha Valley Irrigation Project. Mr. Raju termed it a good suggestion.
He also released an action plan readied by MVD officials as part of the Safe Kerala project to prevent accidents, by handing over a copy to all MLAs.
Mr. Raju said the KSRTC was unable to operate low-floor AC buses due to low patronage, especially since a bulk of youth was working from home.
Referring to the proposed relocation of the KSRTC’s Ernakulam Bus Stand to Karikkamury, the Transport Minister said it would be done in tandem with Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML).
The MLAs who took part in the meeting were Anoop Jacob, Antony John, T.J. Vinod, K.J. Maxi, Mathew Kuzhalnadan, Eldhose Kunnappilly, K. Babu, P.T. Thomas, Anwar Sadath, Roji M. John, P.V. Sreenijin and K.N. Unnikrishnan.
The Transport Minister also inspected Shops on Wheels, a mobile lubricants’ retail shop that will function in a modified KSRTC bus at Ernakulam Boat Jetty bus stand. It will be inaugurated on July 23.
“It is a joint initiative of the KSRTC and HPCL. The lube oils will be sold at 15% less than MRP while the KSRTC hopes to get up to ₹50,000 per month as profit from each outlet. A similar project will come up in Aluva too,” he added.
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