“Rooms in CMBT for bus crew are infested with bugs and seldom cleaned''

Amid the rush of commuters and seasonal tourists, and the movement of buses, the scene at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus in Koyambedu in the early hours every day presents a stark sight – that of a significant number of drivers and conductors sleeping in the vacant seats of buses or on the floor, next to the parked buses.

These people, who often drive long distances, mainly at night, come to the CMBT, where the resting rooms hardly meet their basic lodging requirements. With temperatures soaring, the lack of resting space and hygiene are major concerns, complain the drivers.

“To meet the vacation travel demands, there are more buses plying this month, especially during the weekends. Nearly 300 drivers come to take rest here during early mornings, but due to lack of space and the stuffiness in the rooms, many prefer to sleep inside the buses,” says Raja Venkatesan, a driver from Cuddalore. Many of them say this lack of sleep leads to excessive fatigue during driving.

Four resting rooms have been allotted to the drivers and conductors of the State Transport Corporation (Villupuram division).

A sore point among them is the fact that their colleagues in other divisions and those from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have been offered much better facilities including table fans, beds and helpers. “The rooms are infested with bugs and they are seldom cleaned. And neither are the toilets. Many of us drive for over eight hours continuously, much more than many of them,” says Prabhakara, a driver from Arcot.

“We have to buy drinking water every day, and the water supply in the four toilets is also very irregular,” says Rajamani.S., who drives thrice a week to Chennai from Neyveli, adding that sleeping in the buses seems a better option despite the hordes of mosquitoes that plague them continuously.

The drivers say that since they travel almost 2,000 km a week, and on an average at least 300 km at a stretch, the lack of resting facilities at the hub of buses is disheartening. A reason they cite is the increase in the number of drivers and conductors who have voluntarily taken transfers to Chennai, but are yet to set up their homes here, besides the negligence of officials. “Too many districts have been clubbed together, without considering the increase in numbers of drivers and conductors,” says Selvam Kumar, a conductor of a Thiruvannamalai-Chennai bus.

Officials of the State Transport Corporation (Villupuram division) that is responsible for maintaining the resting rooms said corrective measures would immediately be taken to ensure proper resting space, and hygiene in the resting rooms. “We have been spraying medicines to control pests every week. Before the rush goes up again, as college admissions start, we will make sure the facilities are in place,” said an official.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012

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