Two-wheeler owners describe harrowing experience and say it's sheer luck to find a foothold

For the city residents, who travel every day to nearby towns for their work, parking their two-wheelers under the hot sun has been a pain for years.  The Corporation parking lot adjacent to the Mattuthavani integrated bus stand has shelters that can accommodate not even 10 per cent of the total vehicles parked there.

In the last few days they have an added problem, that of, inadequate space at the parking lot where hundreds of vehicles come every day.    While those manning the parking lot claim that the corporation authorities had taken back a big portion of the land used for parking vehicles, a Corporation official said that they had only asked the contractor to leave the land which he had encroached upon. 

In this confusion, often the commuters find “No space” board displayed at the entrance of the parking lot.  “These days I ride my bike from my home hoping that I should be lucky enough to find a place to squeeze my bike before catching the bus,” said R. Srinivasan, a resident of Kalai Nagar.  On few days, he had to ride back into the city to park his vehicle at his friend's residence and take a city bus to reach the bus stand. 

 “It is understandable that the Corporation cannot expand the parking lot at Arapalayam bus stand for want of space.  But, here they have got lot of land adjacent to it and should allocate more space to match the number of vehicles coming there,” he said. 

Corporation sources said that the parking lot was one acre of land given on annual lease to the contractor.  “There is another 10 acre land vacant adjacent to it and easily another one acre could be given to the contractor,” the official said.  Another regular user of the parking lot, S. Saravanan, complains of lack of basic amenities there.  “Rain or shine our vehicles are parked in an open space.  Many a time, the engines do not start after good showers.  While the men there want us to use the centre stand of the vehicle, it is not possible often because of the loose earth.  Vehicles fall one over the other causing scratches and breaking of indicator lights,” he said. 

He wanted the officials to provide good shelter and concrete flooring.  Either the space should be expanded or multi-level parking like the one at the railway junction should be considered, he said.

Manager of the parking lot, M. Navaneethakrishnan, expressed helplessness.  He said that the Corporation, which is the owner of the parking lot, has not provided adequate shelters for the vehicles.  “We have put up 12 shelters at our cost.  Since the contract changes every year, we cannot afford to put up the shelter for the entire area with our resources,” he said.

A casual counting of the vehicles revealed that at least 300 motorbikes were parked in each of the 10 rows.  And most of the 3,000 vehicles were left to remain under the direct rays of the sun.  “People complain that their costly vehicles were being ruined due to lack of shelter even after paying Rs. 3 for every 12 hours,” Mr. Navaneethakrishnan said.  Often the air pressure in the tubes goes down and also the petrol gets evaporated due continuous exposure to hot sun for more than two or three days.

“So, we started to plant saplings in the nearby areas to create shade.  We allowed people to park their vehicles there.  But, suddenly corporation officials asked us to vacate the land.  People now think that we were not allowing them to park their vehicles in the shade,” Mr. Navaneethakrishnan said. 

After losing the space that could accommodate some 500 motorbikes, parking has become haphazard these days.  “People park their vehicles every where, especially on the pathway blocking other vehicles which often result in the users complaining,” he said. 

When contacted, the Mayor, V.V. Rajan Chellappa, said that additional space would be allocated for parking of vehicles.  “If necessary, it would be maintained by the Corporation officials themselves.  We will inspect it and take necessary action for the benefit of the city residents,” he said.