Civic body to drop public private partnership; to commission shelters with own funds

The Chennai Corporation will now entirely foot the bill for proposed bus shelters in the city.

The civic body announced that it has dropped the public private partnership (PPP) mode for commissioning of stainless steel bus shelters.

As part of its proposal to install 500 bus shelters in the city with its own funds, the civic body has this week invited bids to construct 108 bus shelters across the city. The bus shelters will be commissioned by the Corporation at a cost of Rs.10.31 lakh each.

Under the earlier PPP mode, private entities were permitted to commission bus shelters, and generate advertisement revenue for a period of time. In the first phase, the work to modernise 99 bus shelters, on a build-operate-and-transfer basis, was entrusted to Mumbai-based Laqshya Media Private Limited a few years ago.

The firm was allowed to let out 180 sq. ft. in each of the shelters for advertisements. It was required to pay Rs. 2.4 crore to the Corporation in the first year. From the second year, the company was required to additionally pay five per cent of its revenue from the advertisements. The bus shelters would then be handed over to the civic body after the contract period.

However, the proposal for construction of modern bus shelters in 1,084 bus stops, under the second phase, continues to be mired in legal wrangles. The PPP proposal, envisaging uniformly-designed, stainless steel shelters, was mooted a few years ago, but very few shelters have materialised so far.

After a number of commuters reported challenges faced due to a lack of bus shelters, the civic body has decided to drop the PPP mode.

Recently, some Corporation councillors, claiming to help residents, have started to promote illegal bus shelters by collecting money from private companies, a Corporation official said. These companies have erected over 200 illegal bus shelters by paying councillors money, ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 15,000, on a monthly basis for advertisement rights, resulting in revenue loss to Chennai Corporation.

The newly erected, illegal bus shelters also have unauthorised power supply without any clearance from the departments concerned. Most of the structures are weak and likely to increase the risk of accidents to commuters by causing electric shocks during the monsoon, the official added.

Ward-level officials of the Corporation claim that many of the councillors have sent letters to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, seeking power supply for many such illegal bus shelters which have been commissioned this summer following requests from residents.

However, a councillor of ward 125, R. Bommi, said residents had not made any representations. “We are waiting for the modernised bus shelters of the Corporation,” she said.

Chennai Corporation is yet to take any action against the illegal bus shelters that have cropped up recently. Three years ago, the civic body removed 377 unauthorised shelters.

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