The much-hyped city bus service that was scheduled to be launched before Dussehra has run into road block with the tender floated by Western Odisha Urban Transport Service Limited (WOUTSL) failing to attract any partner to run the buses on PPP mode.
Informing this, Chief Executive Officer of Sambalpur Municipality Annirudha Pradhan, who is also the CEO of WOUTSL, which will be in charge of the regular management of the buses, said though the tender was floated on August 20, no application was received till the last date of September 20.
At present, the region including Sambalpur town lacks organised inter-city and intra-city transportation. Local transport is managed by several private mini bus operators and auto-rickshaws. The services provided by these operators are generally inadequate, inefficient, irregular and ill managed.
Besides, lack of public transport has led to a rapid increase in the number of private vehicles resulting in congestion and pollution. In order to provide an organised and affordable public transport service to the residents of Sambalpur, WOUTSL was formed. WOUTSL is supposed to manage intra-city and inter-city bus services connecting Sambalpur, Hirakud, Burla, Jharsugda and Bargarh.
With no private players evincing interest in joining hands with WOUTSL, despite the fact that State Government would provide 32 buses for the purpose, uncertainty stares at the public transport.
Meanwhile, Municipality CEO Pradhan said they would extend the last date of receipt of application for plying the buses on PPP mode. “The administration is clueless about next step if no application is received even after extension,” he added.
As per 2011 census, Sambalpur has the second largest population of 1,83,383 in Western Odisha. The bus services would have come as a relief for the people who have to cough up Rs 10 to the auto-rickshaw irrespective of the distance. Although town bus service was introduced in 1994 by Sambalpur Municipality, it had to be stopped after one year due to traffic problem.