Vehicles are charged Rs. 150 for six hours at Sathangadu Iron and Steel complex

Many iron wholesalers have moved their wares out of the Sathangadu Iron and Steel market protesting the collection of an entry fee by the market management committee.

“We have asked our members to take their stock elsewhere as we don’t want to pay any entry or parking fee to enter our own plots inside the market,” said S.A. Azeez,  honorary secretary, The South India Iron and Hardware Merchants’ Association.

Around 700 wholesalers had moved to Sathangadu from Sembudoss Street in George Town in 2009. “We had purchased land inside the market and constructed warehouses to stock steel. Now we are being asked to pay parking fee to take our stock in and out. We anyway pay a maintenance fee of Rs. 75 a month. We do not want to pay any fee to enter our own premises,” he said.

Sources said that a fee of Rs.150 for six hours is being charged from all heavy vehicles that enter the Sathangadu market in Manali.

Trucks owned by members of the Chennai Steel Yard Trailer Owners Association have been asked to pay a fee of Rs. 1200 a month. Trailer drivers and owners have also objected to this. According to association joint secretary J. Raja, they had paid the amount for one month after which they too boycotted the market for some time.

“Our vehicles are not kept securely even when we pay money. A fortnight ago, a vehicle was stolen from inside the market. The MMC’s response was that they were not responsible for the safety of the vehicles. They call it entry fee but the person who mans the toll says it is parking fee,” he said. The association has also gone to court seeking a stay on collection of the fee.

There are also no facilities such as drinking water or toilets for drivers.

“After we staged a protest, they installed a garden tap outside a building and said the water was potable. We still have to travel at least 5 km to reach a restaurant where we can have lunch or drink water,” said E. Kali, a driver.

“After the introduction of the fee, unwanted elements do not enter the market. The Market Management Committee collects the money to ensure proper maintenance of facilities,” said an official source in the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, under whose purview the market is.

More In: Chennai