Situation attributed to the 'nonchalant attitude' of the corporation authorities.

About a year back, the Madurai police, in consultation with the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, proposed to ply city buses exclusively for Ayyappa devotees coming from far and near towns to offer darshan at the famous Meenakshi Temple as part of their pilgrimage. After there were complaints that share auto drivers took the devotees for a ride, the arrangement was introduced by the authorities.

It was decided to operate the bus from Nataraj Theatre (TNSTC head office) after passing through Ponmeni, Periyar bus stand, Dindigul Road, Thanga Mayil Jewellers and back to the originating point.

After a good patronage from commuters, the TNSTC authorities felt the need to operate it more frequently. Four buses were earmarked for this route (in the sense, for every 15 minutes, a bus would ply). Initially, the TNSTC authorities had good support from the police in regulating vehicles on the route. However, after a few months things went for a toss.

First and foremost reason was attributed to the nonchalant attitude of the corporation authorities. The digging work along the cramped Netaji Road (near Raja Barley bakery) came as a big blow to the TNSTC drivers. Even after many months had passed, the digging went on and on. Many were clueless as to when the work come to an end.

As a result, parking of two-wheelers encroached a sizable portion of the carriage space. Driving was miserable for many TNSTC drivers as they were unable to move out of the stretch with ease. Though the police was not directly responsible for the mess, they were at the receiving end.

Two days back, a wordy altercation between a share auto driver and a TNSTC bus driver near the Thanga Mayil Jewellery side led to traffic coming to a halt. For at least 10 full minutes there was a war of words.

The share autorickshaw driver finally gave in as other vehicle users turned restless from behind.

The reason for the conflict between the two, upon inquiries by a policeman, was that the TNSTC driver shouted at the share auto driver as he (the latter) had encroached into the bus stop. This irked the share auto driver, who refused to move away. However, TNSTC drivers say that long chassis buses (Marco Polo make) does not fit in the stretch and instead regular buses may be used. Negotiating the vehicle near Kansa Mettu Street and entering South Masi street was impossible, they claimed.

To compound problems further, the public visiting jewellery showrooms and for other shopping purposes along Netaji Road parked their vehicles wherever they found space. Many conveniently left their vehicles in the “ No Parking” zones. Thus, under a situation, when even a two-wheeler rider finds it tough to cross the Netaji Road, it would be humanly impossible for a TNSTC bus driver to move on, a traffic police lamented.

It is hoped that the police could mark parking and no parking slots, which would bring in discipline. Any violating vehicle should be towed away as it would send a signal to others not to neglect police order. Police can consider introducing one-way along the stretch, at least during peak hours, if possible.

Another suggestion made was that loading and unloading of goods vehicles should be prohibited on this stretch. Pedestrians should be educated to use pathways and for this purpose, the pathways should be clean and free from encroachment.

Road crossing by pedestrians cannot be anywhere and everywhere. Hence, zebra crossing marks should be laid, so that motorists can also slow down at this point.

If the police fail to enforce rules on Netaji Road, then it would be a nightmarish ride on this stretch.

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