Public transport in Guwahati will be in turmoil after four months when 15-year old city buses and 10-year old trekkers will be taken off the roads on court orders. To be enforced after 31 March next year, the order by the Gauhati High Court brings an end to the litigation between the Transport department and the Share Taxi Owners Association, though the latter may still move the Supreme Court. Back in 2003, the then Transport minister had started the well-intentioned scheme of issuing permits to unemployed youths to operate trekkers. But with their life-spans coming to an end, these vehicles have become unfit for public transport, putting the lives of passengers at risk. There are frequent reports of overcrowding of passengers on rickety trekkers and minibuses, as well as rash driving on potholed roads by drivers with doubtful credentials. There is also the problem of such old vehicles belching out noxious gases and contributing to air pollution, particularly in Guwahati where an estimated 1,200 share taxis and trekkers are plying on its roads. The owners are angry at the Transport department’s drive, but now they should learn a lesson from the High Court’s orders. They simply cannot run a business without putting aside a part of their profits to cover depreciation, the costs necessary to replace worn out machinery. The mentality of maximising profits without keeping money aside to buy new vehicles has now cost them dear. In the interest of public welfare and to comply with court orders, these vehicle owners must take responsibility to provide clean and safe transport.
food for thought