BANGALORE: Transport minister R Ramalinga Reddy held a meeting with private bus operators for the first time and issued a series of diktats to prevent accidents involving Volvos and other carriages on long-distance trips. On the sidelines of the meeting, the minister spoke to TOI.
How fruitful was the meeting with private bus operators?
The government had never interacted with private bus operators. Perhaps there was no such need because incident like Mahbubnagar and Haveri had not been reported then. They were all cooperative and showed concern towards passenger safety.
Will such meetings happen again?
I have asked our transport commissioner to hold such meetings every two months and seek their opinion in bettering passenger safety. They have all welcomed the move.
Will bus operators abide by your 11-point diktat?
Hopefully, they will. Otherwise we will launch a drive to ensure they will fall in line. We have been lenient for a while but not anymore. because we cannot compromise on passenger safety.
We have already cancelled permits of around 2,000 contract buses in one week.
Some private bus owners blame wrong placement of diesel tanks and batteries for the recent accidents?
The investigation is on. We are hoping to get the report in 2-3 days. Based on that, we will ask Volvo to redesign their buses. Even Volvo officials have agreed to this.
Some operators allege harassment by RTO officials after mishaps.
Some bus operators told me this. I have directed the officials not to harass them for petty reasons.
Providing a safer travel to people should be a joint effort both transport department and private bus operators.
What made you withdraw the controversial circular not making mandatory for Volvos to have emergency exit doors?
It was an old order issued in 2011. We got to know of this recently and I asked the official to withdraw it in the larger interest. Why it was issued? My predecessors have to answer.