Andheri- You probably would not spare Chandrakant Suryavanshi and Ganpat Kachre a second look if you met them on the road. But a busload of BEST passengers owe their lives to them.
On Sunday, this alert driver-conductor duo helped eight passengers travelling on route number 396 from Mulund to Chakala to get off immediately after a freak engine fault sparked a fire in the bus.
Within minutes, the entire bus was gutted. The fire was so severe that a passing car too went up in flames. None of the passengers however were hurt. The captains who left the ship last, driver Suryavanshi and conductor Kachre, also escaped unhurt.
The BEST bus driver is a much maligned entity in a metropolis forever jostling for space on congested roads. The audacious driving of the BEST drivers has many motorists swearing under their breaths often, but Suryavanshi has put paid, at least temporarily, to those misgivings. "I heard a small explosion and called Kachre to investigate the cause. Before we knew what was happening, the fire started," remembers the softspoken Suryavanshi. Kachre adds, "There was nothing to do but get the passengers off the bus as soon as possible and we did that."
Their modesty speaks volumes of the unsung work these drivers and conductors undertake on a daily basis, dealing with recalcitrant commuters and potholed roads.
The BEST administration has apt words of praise for the duo. "Both of them adhered to the training given to them and ensured that all passengers were evacuated safely," said C R Dadas, Mulund bus depot superintendent.
Each bus is given a thorough check before it starts off on a journey and such freak accidents are rare in the BEST's history.
Suryavanshi and Kachre's act of bravery may not fetch them the President's medal this Republic Day, but they definitely deserve a salute from every Mumbaikar.