A man in civil clothes is sitting at the wheel of a bus, that appears to be rather rickety. Behind him stands another man, shouting instructions. All around, other men – perhaps friends of the driver – are cracking jokes and pulling the driver’s leg. And the driver misses instruction after instruction as the man behind him yells at him to take a right, or take a left.
This is a video that’s doing the rounds, allegedly of a friend of a temporary driver in Tamil Nadu being allowed to drive a bus, just because ‘he’s always wanted to.’
The temporary driver who let this happen on his watch was appointed by the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, as thousands of drivers across the state are striking, demanding better wages and the payment of their dues.
Striking bus drivers demanding a 2.57 time wage hike had refused to go back to work even after the Madras High Court directed them to resume duty or face consequences. Unwilling to match their demands and not having paid their dues, the government hired temporary drivers to make up for the shortage of drivers and ease commuters’ woes. However, this has proven to be disastrous given that these drivers have been causing accidents on the roads.
In this footage from Ooty, the driver of the vehicle has gotten up to allow his friend to take the wheel. While the driver is seen standing behind the driver’s seat and yelling instructions at his friend, the friend is seen steering precariously to the left. Laughing that their friend was not applying the brakes, the driver and his friends ask him to be careful as the brakes are not in good condition.
One of the friends sitting in the front row of the bus says, “Did you make an 8 when you went to get your license?” To this, the temporary bus driver appears to laugh and reply, “Now he’ll make.”
Towards the end of the video when the friends ask the driver to stop, the driver appears to agree saying that there are no brakes.
Earlier, CITU state president of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, A Soundararajan, told the media, “Over 80% of MTC buses have exceeded their lifetime and all technical workers are on strike. It’s a big risk to run them without maintenance.”
Speaking to TNM, former bureaucrat MG Devasahayam who has led the transport department twice in his tenure as a public administrator, suggested that the army be called in. "Driving a heavy vehicle is not a joke. It requires a huge amount of experience and assigning temporary drivers just won't work," he said.