“Today is a historic day for coastal security in the country,” Union Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Kumar said before inaugurating a coastal chain of static sensors at the Coast Guard District headquarters here on Friday.

The Coast Guard authorities hired a rickety bus from a private travel agency to ferry journalists from the Gandhi statue at Asilmetta to the meeting venue at Malkapuram, putting the lives of the media persons at risk. The bus looked ‘normal’ when seen from outside as it was given a fresh coat of paint.

On going inside, the journalists were horrified to see wires hanging from the inside of the roof. This bus should have been sent to the scrap yard was the comment of the journalists. The ‘trained’ driver managed to drive the bus at a snail’s pace and took about 40 minutes to reach the meeting venue. The media persons thanked the driver and their stars for reaching the venue safely.

The arrival of the Minister’s flight was delayed resulting in the programme starting more than one hour behind schedule. It was dark by the time the programme was over. There were no lights in the bus and the journalists cursed their fate.

The cat was out of the bag when officials of the Regional Transport Authority, who were conducting a routine inspection, stopped the bus at Convent Junction.

“There are no documents in the bus and the bus is in a bad shape,” said Motor Vehicle Inspector M. Butchi Raju, who checked the bus. He said action would be initiated according to the law.

The bus refused to move and had to be pushed to make it run.

This is not the first time that the Coast Guard officials had treated the media in that way. On an earlier occasion, an ‘ambulance’ was used to transport the journalists to cover the launch of a Coast Guard vessel. Coastal security coverage cannot be at the cost of security of journalists covering the events.

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