Everyday, passengers can be seen risking their lives, perched atop buses bursting at their seams.
Interestingly, the sight, particularly peculiar to buses owned by private operators, is not a rarity when it comes to those of the state transport authority.
Commuters can often be spotted atop buses, sitting cross-legged and sitting some distance away from electric wires. Many of them avoid buying tickets, which costs only a few rupees. Others are desperate to reach their destination as early as possible without wasting time, on the lookout for another public transport vehicle.
Such passengers are not only making themselves vulnerable to fatal falls, electrocution, getting hurt by trackside poles, but also risk the lives of the “super-dense crushload” crammed into the bus.
However, major responsibility of such acts falls on the shoulders of the vehicle driver and conductor, who allow it, with a view to minting extra bucks, ignoring the safety of the passengers and co-motorists on the road.
The unfortunate scenario also raises a question mark on the authorities’ seriousness towards their responsibility.
Unfortunately, the authorities, including the Ludhiana traffic police, District Transport Office and state roadways, have consistently failed in ending such death-defying commutes by being mute spectators to the spectacle.
What surprises even more is the fact that the blatant violation of multiple-traffic rules by such bus drivers, more often than not, goes unnoticed by the authorities, who prefer to turn a blind eye to the defiance.
The inaction of the authorities concerned has evoked sharp criticism from all quarters.
“The fact that the drivers of the public transport lack any sense is not a surprise but at least some authoritative figure or body who has even the slightest concern of such precious lives at risk can take action,” fumes a social worker.
“The authorities should tighten the noose around private bus operators who allow rooftop travel to mint extra bucks. No bus should be allowed to operate even with a single person atop its roof. Strict action should be taken against violators by issuing challans, impounding the vehicle and confiscation of documents,” remarks a retired traffic cop.
Another city resident adds, “It is obvious that the passengers do not fully comprehend that when they hang on to their lives clinging to a handle on the side or enjoy the fresh air on top, their chances of injury or even death are raised 10 fold.”
He adds that the authorities should immediately take strict action to curb the growing menace. “What are they waiting for? A serious tragedy?” he questions.
The authorities, on the other hand, plead helplessness. “Many violations go unrecorded,” says a senior traffic police official, hinting at a strong nexus between police officials and transport operators. “Many a time, the officials on duty let the violators off after making them pay Rs 50 or 100,” he said, pointing at the major problem of corruption ailing the system.