The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) may now have to maintain electronic ticket issuing machines (ETIM). The BEST Committee, the decision-making body of the transport and electricity undertaking, on Friday rejected the proposal to extend the contract of Trimax IT Infrastructure and Services Limited. However, the administration does not have the in-house expertise to maintain the machines.
Corporators cited the futility of extending the maintenance contract, when the machines were old and needed replacement. “To what extent can you maintain machines that are nearly eight years old? Every machine has a life and needs to be replaced,” said senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Sunil Ganacharya. According to BJP corporator Srikant Kawathankar, only 2,678 of the 9,508 ETIMs were functional, resulting in losses.
However, General Manager of BEST, Surendrakumar Bagde, said 70% of their ticket revenue comes from ETIMs while 30% comes from paper tickets. Mr. Bagde said they would examine the best course of action to run the system, adding the combination of working ETIMs and paper tickets was causing no problems to commuters.
The company had been appointed in 2010 to provide and maintain ETIMs. The contract ended in 2016 and since then, it has been extended several times. The last extension expired on June 30. The machines have over the past year been malfunctioning, resulting in BEST reverting to paper tickets on several routes. Mr. Bagde did not rule out reverting to paper tickets if all ETIMs fail.
After the old contract expired, the BEST administration had floated fresh tenders, and the new contract was also awarded to Trimax. However, Mr. Bagde said the new contract did not adhere to norms for the National Common Mobility Card and hence stayed the contract. Committee member Anil Kokil said the company was to provide 3,000 new machines under the new contract, and had they come, some of BEST’s troubles would have reduced. “80% of the machines are now defunct. The administration has floated tenders to maintain the machines on five occasions, but there were no takers. We keep going back to Trimax,” Mr. Kokil said.
Senior corporator Ravi Raja hit out at the administration, saying the proposal to extend the contract should have not been brought to the committee in the first place. “In February this year, the administration had asked the company to exit and yet, you send us a proposal to extend the contract,” said Mr. Raja.
To what extent can you maintain machines that are nearly eight years old? Every machine has a life and needs to be replaced
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