The big lie about King Long AC buses that actually are made in Punjab

The AC buses plying on the BEST network in Mumbai, known as King Long buses, are in fact manufactured by JCBL in Mohali and have nothing to do with the Chinese bus maker, except few parts here and there

Commuters travelling by the AC buses run by the BEST Undertaking in Mumbai are furious at learning that the King Long buses that cost around Rs40 to Rs45 lakh are not even made in China but in our own Mohali and that too by a local manufacturer using few parts from the Chinese company. Mumbai Mirror revealed this today after an RTI application.


“Investigations carried out by this paper have revealed that King Long buses, sold to us as top-of-the-line Chinese import, are not King Long buses at all. The purple buses you see breaking down every now and then have nothing to do with the Chinese bus maker Xiamen King Long United Automotive Co, except a mechanical part here and there. The rickety clunkers that have given the usually efficient BEST a bad name are Cerita buses put together by an Indian company JayCee Coach Builders (JCBL) at Lalru, Mohali in Punjab,” the newspaper said.


Transport experts are also furious at this blatant lie and misuse of a brand name. “This (the revelation) is undoubtedly a terrible stuff. As a large buyer of buses, BEST should take due care in the specifications, technical audit for all the buses that it buys,” says Ashok Datar, a transport expert.


"We need to understand the cost of so called King Long buses and what would be the cost of actual King Long buses," says Mr Datar, adding that there is definitely a need that Mumbai can get a number of low cost but good quality AC buses. "AC buses, in addition to the luxury high end buses, costs about Rs1 crore. Investment in such buses is equal to Rs3 lakh per seat which is more than Rs2 lakh per seat for an ordinary AC car. We know that for a bus, cost of interest, depreciation and employees works out to be about 2.5 times that of fuel cost. Hence cost of a bus is more important than the cost of fuel," he said.

Uttam Khobragade, the then GM of BEST, labelled these AC buses as ‘King Long’


During the inauguration ceremony on 15 December 2007, both the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Uttam Khobragade, the then GM of BEST referred to these buses as King Long, says Mumbai Mirror. "Interestingly, though the first bus carried the Cerita logo on its nose, it was not clearly visible because of the elaborate floral decoration. The media - both print and electronic - lapped up the Chinese connection and in those days, when Shanghai was Mumbai's aspiration, the lie suited everyone," the report says.

For years Mumbai has been sold the lie of these haphazardly put-together vehicles with a ridiculously high incidence of breakdowns—4,037 in two-and-a-half years for 285 buses—boasting of a Chinese lineage, the newspaper report said.


Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), which manages the public transportation on city roads has been lying throughout the years, officially and unofficially about these problematic AC buses. Speaking with Mumbai Mirror, BEST General Manager OP Gupta, who took over recently, admitted that the 285 buses known for their poor performance in his AC fleet are Cerita and not King Long. “Yes, these are Cerita buses and not King Long. Their warranty period has expired and we have taken a decision to not buy any of these buses ever again. In fact, when I took over, I stopped delivery of 38 of these buses that still had to be acquired,” he told the newspaper.


Following a fire mishap in 2010, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) decided to rest all its fleet of about 15 of these so-called King Long buses. Similarly, these buses while plying in Mumbai also faced same situation, one at Cadbury Junction in Thane and another near Huma Ad Labs on LBS Road. But BEST still continues to ply these buses across the city.


An activist who has campaigned for an efficient school bus system in Mumbai, says, "In order to encourage usage of public transport, an efficient public transport service is an absolute necessity. The fleet of buses, therefore should, most certainly be safe, durable and comfortable for the public to avail of this service. BEST are now in deficit of buses in their fleet, therefore the facility offered to the public is also greatly insufficient!"


Khobragade, the then GM of BEST when these AC buses were introduced in services, told the newspaper that since the matter is too old, he can't remember the specifics.

A retired IAS officer who has worked with Khobragade says, "I agree that Khobragade is 'corrupt' and may have conspired on the King Long deal. But the question is will the Government prosecute him?"

According to news reports, last month around 100 King Long buses were used during the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. About 10 XMQ6127 buses were even appointed as franchised vehicles by Olympic partner Samsung Company to serve OCOG officials, athletes, referees and volunteers.

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    7 years ago

    I think this article has a lot of factual inaccuracies and reflects poorly on the journalism.

    The BEST buses have been carrying Cerita badging clearly from day 1. They are colloquially referred to as King Longs because the critical mechanical chassis components from King Long.

    The bus is assembled by JCBL and fitted with a Cummins engine (which even King Long buses in other countries have in different configurations). The bus is rebranded as Cerita.

    The earlier batch of Cerita buses did have King Long badging. Case in point, note the King Long logos below the windscreen on this MSRTC bus

    The comparison pic used in the beginning of the article is also incorrect. You are comparing an intercity King Long bus with an intracity Cerita bus.

    The Cerita equivalent of the intercity King Long bus is the one in the link below:

    So, it's quite clear that King Long wants to shrug off responsibility. Please consult some automotive journalists (and not old-school transport experts) before publishing such articles and sensationalise them by calling a "big lie" et al.



    In Reply to sp 7 years ago

    Dear SP or whatever is your 'real name',
    We are aware about your location and venting out at each story at Moneylife. So please stop pretending and posting nasty things using different names.
    Coming back to your comment...
    We had clearly mentioned that the points were raised by Mumbai Mirror. However, you found only Moneylife to 'teach' journalism standards!
    Anyway, your logic of using 'critical mechanical chassis component' and hence the reference as King Long is quite funny. By this logic, all the Tatas, Leylands or Marutis should be colloquially referred by the chassis maker's name, right?
    Once again, read the story carefully. We had never said that the buses were not made by JCBL. We said the buses made by JCBL as Cerita were labelled as King Long to fool Mumbaikars for a long time.
    The experts quoted in the article are working in this particular field since ages. And not like you who pretend to have "knowledge and authority on each and every subject" that Moneylife writes about.
    We once again request you to stop 'the hit job' of posting unwarranted and nasty comments on this site, on behalf of anyone.

    Black Mamba

    7 years ago

    File a complaint with CBI (EOW) under PCA 1988 if you have the evidence.


    7 years ago

    I hope somebody files a PIL and brings justice to Khobragade's corruption. He must pay for the nation's loss.

    Corruption: A challenge for managers

    Corrupt people take shelter under the age-old protection available to those facing allegations to the effect that “until proved guilty”. If we miss the opportunity to cleanse public life and allow our position in international assessments to drift further, it may take ages to redeem the country’s reputation

    In November 2010 writing on “Demand and supply of corruption in India” Dr Bimal Jalan made the following observation on the working of the watchdogs of governance in India: “Investigations are carried out, guilt is established, appeals are filed but nothing much happens after that. Years pass; courts, people and the media soon move on to other cases.” The same feeling, in different situations has been finding expression through word of mouth, media reports and on faces of aam admi captured by electronic media and telecast across the world.

    The simmering discontent in the minds of one billion people who toiled to make India rich and were denied any share in the end-product of their work is there for all to see. This discontent is finding expression in various forms, some peaceful, some violent, and most of the time as statistics on hunger deaths, increasing number of people going down the “poverty line” which itself is defective and designed to camouflage real situation. The political leadership is being blind to the realities when they are trying even at this late hour to resolve the issues being focused in well-intentioned movements like the one spearheaded by Anna Hazare. The issues get dodged or diverted by raising trivial differences of views, where the real problem is the fear of any ‘watchdog’.

    India has an array of politicians, statesmen, businessmen and bureaucrats who do not face corruption charges. These eminent individuals have a moral responsibility to help the country pull out of the present crisis. UPA (United Progressive Alliance) chairperson Sonia Gandhi had exhorted for “zero tolerance” to corruption while addressing Congressmen in Allahabad sometime back. Her vision did not find takers even among her followers inasmuch as the government guided by her failed to take steps to ensure that at least people facing huge corruption charges did not hold public offices. While convalescing in the United States last year, Sonia Gandhi once again remembered the need to tackle corruption and on return to India promptly requested her party to do something about it.

    Going by the dictionary meaning, the word corruption is associated with words like bribe, cheating, evil, badness, decayed, stinking, decayed, false, defilement, wickedness, violation, defective, spoilt, faulty, wrong, malignant, offensive, immoral, unchaste, vile and fallen (the list can go on). Suffice to say, anyone or any institution/organization having something attributable to any formations out of any of these words can be alleged to be corrupt. Luckily not so. It is generally accepted that what is legal is not corrupt. Then, like morality, the perception of corruption varies from individual to individual, society to society and country to country. Meaning, what is construed as legal in one context need not be so in another context.

    For the rich and the powerful, there will always be legal remedies, as, historically, the laws are made and interpreted in their favour. No wonder, while really corrupt people take shelter under legal interpretations and the age-old protection available to those facing allegations to the effect that until proved guilty, the benefit of doubt would go in favour of the accused, eminent statesmen and innocent common man get dragged into controversies related to corruption, despite their efforts to maintain high moral and ethical standards in their own lives. In the deluge of corruption that the world is witnessing today, no Krishna will be able to float on a leaf unaffected by the deluge. The value system which is in disrepair globally needs a shock treatment. The initiative can come from India, if the nation decides to make every embarrassment an opportunity to correct and move forward. This can be done only by handling individual corruption cases on the basis of the facts of the case and not with reference to the impact such action will have on coalition government’s equilibrium or the immediate inconvenience or discomfort some individuals will face.

    There are several ‘current’ corruption cases which compete between and among them as to which one has more quality ingredients of immense possibilities for multiplying personal net-worth without any value addition. While on the subject of corruption, one is reminded of a quote from Kautilya:

    “Just as fish moving inside water cannot be known when drinking water, even so officers appointed for carrying out works cannot be known when appropriating money. It is possible to know even the path of birds flying in the sky, but not the ways of officers moving with their intentions concealed.” (Kautilya Arthasastra, 2.9.33, 34)

    Leaving political in-fights and probes by various agencies to take their course, management institutes like IIMs and academicians should consider seriously studying the most ‘popular’ corruption cases of recent times such as 2G spectrum auction, Common Wealth Games and  the allegations against family members of former CJI K G Balakrishnan having amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. As, generally, management institutes have a soft approach to squandering of money by private sector enterprises, to protect the interests of private sector, subjects like a comparison between the managements of Air India and Kingfisher Airlines with their counterparts in India and abroad also could be done.

    The cases cited are illustrative meant to indicate that they are multi-dimensional in nature as stakeholders include politicians, ministers and government officials and a dispassionate study by academicians may bring out socio-economic issues that may have to be addressed as part of the fight against corruption. The study should aim at unearthing the connections or nexus between and among stakeholders at various levels and come out with suggestions/recommendations about the safeguards that can be built into the system to minimize recurrence of similar instances. The safeguards could include, stricter penalties for economic crimes, denial of party tickets to ‘tainted’ politicians for fighting election, periodic publication of names of individuals/organizations involved in economic offences involving, say, Rs100 crore or more and voluntary/automatic vacation of public offices by individuals occupying high public offices and facing allegations which courts or government agencies like CBI admit for investigation.

    If we miss this opportunity to cleanse public life and allow our position in international assessments to drift further, it may take ages to redeem the country’s reputation.

    (The writer is a former general manager of Reserve Bank of India. He can be contacted at [email protected].)

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    7 years ago

    An excellent analysis of corruption, the main reason being electoral politics,i.e., money to win elections. The fact that the feudal system is still prevalent in another form needs to be noted, and this system is supported by police and judiciary, and sometimes by media too. It is thought that the right education will rectify the blunders, but it has proved to be untrue and the fact is it is aggravated exponentially for the sociological reasons. The need of the hour is bringing the or amending the legislation to bring all the political class and the government servants under strict law which must involve capital punishment, confiscation of ill-gotten wealth, jailed for life etc. This must be part of LOK-PAL, and only then the system gets rectified. Second reason is the ritualistic hindu way of life which has got a lot of flamboyancy and self-esteem to demonstrate leading to accepted grade of corrupt practices. The historic mental attitude has not yet changed. And they presume as their right to enjoy the position entrusted by GOD, very much unfortunate.

    ashok sen

    7 years ago

    A very well written article on corruption,and how our standing in the world is poor on this count.

    The problem is that corruption is so endemic, people in all spheres of life have taken it as a part and parcel of daily life,and have by and large lost hope of any change,as the rule makers,who are supposed to be above all the corruption,are the most corrupt.

    People have not forgotten the scams - Bofors, CWG, 2G, Adarsh, Lalu Ghotala, e.t.c. They see for years no real action by those in power,who could bring the guilty to face punishment for these massive scams; why should they then listen to Mrs. Gandhis preachings,when her familys involvement in Bofors still lingers in peoples minds.There is total despair/disillusion among the people,and only if a few more upright persons of the calibre of Dr. Abdul Kalam's coming to the fore, can possibly change the perception that we are finished on the matter of corruption and there is no hope.

    Press Council wants electronic, social media under its purview

    Journalistic ethics apply not only to the print media but also to the electronic media and there is no reason why electronic media be not regulated by a statutory body says the Press Council

    New Delhi: The Press Council of India (PCI) has urged Union Government to carry out necessary amendments to bring electronic and social media under its purview, saying broadcast media's claim for self-regulation is 'futile' and 'oxymoron', reports PTI.
    The PCI, which also sought to be renamed 'The Media Council', cited the recent incidents where social networking sites were used to spread rumours that triggered exodus of people belonging to north-eastern states to justify its demand for widening its area of operation and said there should not be any "dilly-dallying" in the matter by the Government.
    In a statement released on Tuesday, the PCI said that it had resolved that the "Government of India be requested to initiate suitable legislation to amend the Press Council Act, 1978, by (i) bringing the electronic media (both broadcast and social media) within the purview of the Press Council Act, and renaming it as The Media Council." 
    The PCI also sought more powers for itself, the statement said, adding that it had passed a resolution to this effect at a meeting held yesterday in the capital.
    "Journalistic ethics apply not only to the print media but also to the electronic media, and hence there is no reason why electronic media be not regulated by a statutory body, when the print media is regulated," it said.
    PCI Chairperson Justice Markanday Katju has in the past also expressed views that the electronic media should be under the purview of the council.
    The PCI also gave reasons for passing the resolution to include the electronic and the social media within its ambit.
    "When the Press Council Act was enacted, there was no electronic media, and hence there was no need for any legislation for regulating the electronic media," the PCI statement said.
    "Subsequently, the electronic media has come into existence. Journalistic ethics apply not only to the print media but also to the electronic media...," it said.
    The PCI said that experience had shown that "the claim of the broadcast media for self-regulation is futile and meaningless, because self-regulation is an oxymoron." 
    "All social activity has to be regulated. Regulation is different from control. In control, there is no freedom, while in regulation, there is freedom but it is subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest," the PCI statement said.
    The Press Council also said that it was in favour of only regulation and not control, and that this regulation should be by an independent statutory authority like the Press Council of India and not the government.
    The Council said that it presently has 28 members (apart from the Chairman), of which, 20 are representatives of the Press.
    "These 20 members are not appointed by the government but elected by press bodies. All important decisions are taken by majority vote. If the electronic media is also brought under the Press Council (to be named The Media Council), the electronic media will also have their representatives in the Council," it said in its statement.
    The Council said that recent happenings had indicated that regulation of media was important.
    "In recent times, experience has shown that the unregulated electronic media is playing havoc with the lives of the people. An example is what happened to the people of North-East," the PCI statement said.
    "Hence, the Press Council resolved that now the time has come when there should not be any dilly-dallying in the matter by the Government, and the amendments to the Press Council Act, as proposed above, should be made forthwith," the PCI said.
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