A bus driver who uploaded a video lamenting the poor conditions of the buses run by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) was handed a suspension order on Monday. Vijayakumar, who has been working as a TNSTC bus driver for the past 12 years, had recorded a video where he complained that the shutter attached to the window next to him does not cover it completely, thus leading to rainwater drenching him every time it rains.
He is seen saying in the video that he had driven from Trichy to Palani while it was raining and rainwater coming through the window caused him a lot of discomfort while driving. He adds that in most buses, the brakes are non-functional and such shutters cause discomfort to the drivers, obstructing their work. He alleged that nobody in the department paid attention to these things.
The video, allegedly shot on October 4 by one of Vijayakumar’s friends, went viral on social media.
On Monday, he was suspended for ‘making derogatory remarks against TNSTC on WhatsApp’ while operating the bus.
In the suspension order, signed by the General Manager of TNSTC (Palani), says that since the offence committed by him is serious, he is suspended from October 8, until the time of the investigation.
Speaking to TNM, Vijayakumar said that his multiple complaints over the years regarding the maintenance state of the buses did not bear fruits and hence spoke to the camera in that viral video.
“Every time I face a problem with the bus I operate, I make an entry in my log sheet. But so far, no action has been taken to repair or maintain the buses. Even in that video, I had reached Palani bus stand when I decided to talk about this and my friend shot it on his mobile phone. They have suspended me just for talking. How do they expect a driver to operate without talking? It is common for us to keep talking when driving because otherwise there is a risk of dozing off at the wheel,” he said.
This is not the first time he has been wronged, he shares. Four years ago, TNSTC had held back his increment when he had told his senior officer that he will not operate a bus because it was not maintained properly.
Vijayakumar narrated an accident that took place near Palani a week ago, where the bus he was driving hit a two-wheeler after the brakes did not work properly. The rider of the two-wheeler escaped with minor injuries since Vijayakumar managed to stop the bus in time.
“The brake in that bus worked only in one wheel of the bus instead of all four wheels. Had the brakes worked in all the four wheels of the bus, I could have even avoided hitting the guy who came in front of my bus,” he said.
Vijayakumar shared that the officer who came to the Chatrapatti police station to check on him ended up blaming him for the accident and he told him that he did his best with the bus.
“If anybody had examined the state of the tyres and the tyre marks on the road, they will know that it was the bus that was in a bad condition and that I had done my best to avoid an accident,” he said.
Multiple attempts by TNM to contact the officials at TNSTC were unsuccessful.