Sorry state of affairs of private buses in Kodagu
Is it time to nationalise the private bus routes in Kodagu? If the condition of the private buses in Kodagu is any indication, it is high time that the government (KSRTC) took over the bus operation.
This reporter had the nightmarish experience of travelling in a private bus recently. The reporter boarded the Jayalakshmi express bus at Virajpet to go to Madikeri. In the first place, the bus was fit to be junked. The conductor of the bus pushed the passengers like cattle and ensured that they were packed like sardines.
The local RTO has to answer how permission is given to ply such a condemned vehicle and why no action is taken against over-crowding. Apparently the RTO officials in Kodagu are a corrupt lot.
With so much of load, it was obvious that the bus would not reach its destination. The fears came true as the bus stopped abruptly at Mekeri, five km before Madikeri. There was no one reason for the breakdown. It must have been a ‘multi-organ failure’. The driver desperately tried to revive the bus and in the process the passengers had to inhale thick fumes.
Finally, the driver pleaded his helplessness. There was no spare bus to be summoned. He promised to accommodate the passengers in other buses. Not far away, another bus too had broken down. With none of the buses stopping, the passengers, mostly women and children, were stranded. This reporter managed to find an auto-rickshaw after walking for about one km in the hot sun.
Most of the buses parked at the Virajpet private bus-stand, have outlived their ‘use by date’. And there was hardly any space for the buses to manoeuver inside the Virajpet bus-stand.
The private bus owners should be blamed for the sorry state of affairs. They want to milk the money from the obsolete buses. They are not worried about the comfort of the passengers. It is a fact that the roads are bad. This is all the more the reason that attention should be paid towards the maintenance of the buses.
It is time to recall how private bus services were started decades ago by enterprising local Kodavas. These men never thought of short-cuts. Service to the passengers came first. Among these men, some of the Kodava entrepreneurs who made a name for themselves were Muruvanda Bojappa, Ammanakuttanda Ganapathy, Bolandanda Kalappa, Nellamakkada Uthappa, and Natvalanda Achappa.
The Anuradha bus service started by a bunch of Kodavas was a model for others to emulate for service, cleanliness, etc. About 50 years ago, this reporter remembers that Gajanana bus service had installed a music system on the bus.
Service to the passengers came first to these owners. If a driver did not turn up, the owner himself drove the bus. This reporter was witness to Maneyapanda Muddappa running his Champion Bus wearing a full suit! How many bus owners have such commitment now?
It was not just the owners. Even crew members were courteous. Sattar, the driver of the Subramanya bus was one of the most popular drivers of those times. Perhaps, he would not have taken any leave in his long career.
Nationalisation is not the solution. This reporter is of the firm belief that “the business of government should be government and not business.” It is time the private bus operators engaged in some introspection and did something to improve passenger comfort.