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Unaccounted Taxes, Unseen Expenditure Drain Earnings Of Inter-State Buses, Rising Maintenance Cost May Push Buses Out Of NH-39

IMPHAL, Feb 16: With increasing losses  that has made regular maintenance impossible, the conditions of the passenger buses plying  between Imphal and Guwahati as well as Shillong have deteriorated to such an extent that there is strong apprehension that the service may cease altogether after sometime.

On an average, around 30 passenger buses ply from Imphal to Guwahati and Shillong daily. Among the 30 odd passenger buses, there are not even four or five buses whose condition can be said to be satisfactory at least.

Talking to The Sangai Express, a driver of a passenger bus plying between Imphal and Guwahati informed that there are more than 20 toll gates in between Mantripukhri and Garampani in Assam.

At the time of crossing these toll gates, every passenger buses have to pay taxes while on the other hand the number of passengers has been coming down day by day. There have been instances in which one has to drive till Guwahati carrying only 15 passengers out of the total seat capacity of 35.

For crossing the toll gate at Mantripukhri, one has to pay Rs 20 for to and fro while at Sekmai police gate, one has to shell out normally Rs 30. But on the return journey if the bus is carrying goods the police personnel charge more.

At Sapermeina police gate, no charge is levied for crossing but on the return journey at least Rs 100 is sure to be charged if the bus is loaded with goods. At Kangpokpi police gate, a loaded bus on its return journey is charged only Rs 50.

In Senapati, for the crossing the gates, the police charged Rs 20 from each passenger bus while another Rs 20 by the Town Committee for the to and fro journey.

Buses on NH-39 face a lot of problems including hostile terrain. (File Photo) Image Credit: Sangai Photo.

In case, the bus is carrying some goods, then the amount charged is upto Rs 100.

The story does not end here.

In Mao, the police charged Rs 50 from each bus for crossing and Rs 100 for entering.

In addition to this, there is a place just around 30 meters from Mao Police gate where not less than Rs 2000 is imposed from each passenger buses carrying goods and heading towards Imphal, the driver disclosed, adding that before reaching Mao and beyond Tadubi, there is another gate where Rs 20 is charged from each passenger bus heading to Imphal.

Once inside Nagaland, it is nothing but taxes all the way. At Dimapur Main gate, one has to shell out Rs 100 for crossing and Rs 300 for returning. In addition to this, on the return journey, one has to pay Rs 300 to the Dimapur Town Committee and Rs 80 to the Town Committee of Purna Bazar.

At New Gate, Rs 100 is charged for cross and another Rs 400 on the return journey. At the same spot, an additional Rs 150 is charged by the Town Committee.

At Maspani, Rs 300 is charged and Rs 80 at Jhorapani. Not far from Jhorapani, there is also another gate where Rs 60 is charged.

At Vishema gate, Rs 200 is charged from the passenger buses for entering and another Rs 250 for returning.

At Kohima, the Excise and the Town Committee charged Rs 100 for entering and Rs 250 for returning.

At Lalmati, Rs 150 is charged for entering and Rs 300 for returning, the driver added.

Entering Assam too is no respite for the drivers of these passenger buses from the tax collectors.

At Garampani gate, a minimum of Rs 150 is charged from each passenger bus for the to and fro journey. Moreover, at Khatkhati, Rs 100 is charged on the way and another Rs 200 for returning, the driver explained.

The driver recalled that at one time, the passenger buses plying between Imphal and Guwahati were full to the capacity and remained crowded with many non-Manipuris travelling daily. Now-a-days, no non-Manipuris could be seen travelling.

As per an understanding with the ticket counters, passenger buses get Rs 450 as fare per passenger for the Imphal-Guwahati journey. In spite of this, while meeting the numerous taxes being collected all along the journey, there is nothing left for the maintenance of the buses. These buses may look good from exterior but travelling inside a bus plying between Imphal and Ukhrul may be more comfortable than these buses, the driver pointed out.

Drawing a comparison between the system of bus service in Assam and Manipur, the driver further pointed out that in Assam, once a passenger gets the ticket and board a bus, he or she can lodge complaint if the seat is not comfortable. The drivers and the conductors also attend to such complaints of the passengers immediately. If necessary repairing work to make the passengers comfortable is not possible, then another bus is arranged for them. But in case of Manipur, no one lodge complaint and even if there is such complaint, none listen to them leaving the passengers to their own fate.

Furthermore, in Manipur, there is no idea or arrangement for replacing the old buses with new and better ones. The system here is to lead the buses in service as long as they can and then stop only when they can run any longer. There is strong apprehension, passenger bus services in Manipur may cease, sooner than later when all the existing buses in Manipur could no more be in service, the driver said.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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