The KSRTC has hoodwinked the motor vehicles department into issuing mandatory annual fitness certificates to its buses, sending its buses for tests after a good paint job but without any proper repairs.
The transport undertaking started engaging in this dangerous deceit to save on money as it is going through a financial crisis and is facing a crunch in spare parts.
The rules require buses that run public services, including those of the KSRTC, to undergo testing and get fitness certificates every year. Vehicles that come for fitness tests are to be in “showroom condition.” But KSRTC buses often just have the gloss.
That is because doing repairs to a bus before sending it for testing will cost about Rs 50,000; painting alone will cost only Rs 10,000.
The rules say the official giving the fitness certificate needs to inspect all the parts and take the buses on a test run. But often the KSRTC buses that come for testing are in such a condition that they can only be driven by their regular drivers. The motor vehicles department officials also are not ready to take these buses for test runs.
Some officials in the department concede that the certificates are issued after just inspecting the painting and the tyres of the buses.
A few months back, a KSRTC bus had broken down soon after passing a fitness test. Its axle had broken.
From superfast to ordinary
When the buses that run fast and superfast services start getting unreliable due to wear and tear, the KSRTC moves them to “ordinary” services. Rules mandate that buses should not be run on fast and superfast routes for more than 5 years.
But the undertaking is forced to continue with very old buses for servicing ordinary routes due to a shortage of vehicles. There are 23 buses that are more than 10 years old in the Kottayam depot alone. The depot had got a bus with automatic doors just before the Sabarimala season, and five more new buses within two week.