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Public transport in Meghalaya

The red buses under the banner of Shillong Public Transport Service have eased the travel experience of the public in Shillong and beyond. These buses were provided under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) of the Ministry of Urban Affairs during the UPA regime. It is a sad commentary on the Urban Affairs Department that it failed to lease out the buses to private parties after a carefully drafted Memorandum of Agreement which ensures that the deal is mutually beneficial.  Since the agreement is loaded in favour of the private parties, there is no attempt to keep the buses in working condition. The drivers at the wheels appear young and inexperienced. It takes a while for a driver to get a license to drive a heavy vehicle. He/she has to be upgraded from a Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) driver to a Heavy Motor Vehicle (HMV) one. In Meghalaya, people have got their licenses without passing their driving tests. Hence it can be assumed that the drivers behind the wheels of the red buses are not competent to pilot those heavy vehicles.

Today many of the red buses are in a dilapidated state. There is no central parking space. Most are parked by the side of the road. Their bodies are dented and they seem in sore need of repair and maintenance but they are not getting it. The reason is because the lessee feels he/she does not have the onus of repairing the vehicles since they are already paying a portion of their daily earnings to the Urban Affairs Department.  Without maintenance, many of these buses are unlikely to last much longer. What happens then to public transportation? Will the central government continue with the JNNRUM in 2019, considering they have obliterated the name of Nehru from every possible scheme? This is difficult to predict. What is sure to happen is that buses will not be sent out to the states without a clear blueprint of the terms and conditions between the Government and the lessee. Too much public money is wasted in badly maintained public utilities.    

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