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Updated: May 10, 2012 02:00 IST

Motorists in T. Nagar taken for a ride

Meera Srinivasan
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Attendants prevent them from using the parking meters and charge double the fee on Thyagaraya Road in Pondy Bazaar

If you're not alert while parking your vehicle in Pondy Bazaar, you might end up paying more than the actual charge. Parking lot attendants along the entire market area on Thyagaraya Road seem to have adopted a uniform strategy to cheat those coming to shop.

There are as many as 14 automated parking meters along the stretch beginning near the Boag Road-Thyagaraya Road junction, right up to the end of the road, near Panagal Park. The meters have one attendant each to assist arriving shoppers.

Misuse of resource

Before you even parallel-park your car, an attendant comes running to you. “Ten rupees,” he says, holding out a ‘parking token'. The token is often an old one — at 11.30 a.m. on Wednesday, this reporter was given a token that said ‘1.15 p.m. – Rs. 10.'

A board right on top of the parking meter, however, displays different parking rates in bold letters — Rs. 5 for one hour, Rs. 10 for two, and Rs.15 for three hours. Try telling the attendant that you would take a coupon from the automated meter that you can see right there, and he quickly says, “Oh, that does not work.”

The meters work, but most motorists looking to park do not know. They need to put in new coins of Rs. 5, Rs. 2 or Re. 1 denomination into the meter, which spits out a token.

Automated system

The Chennai Corporation's automated parking lot, introduced in select localities 2009, is managed by a private contractor, Millenium Synergy Private Limited.

The company has installed nearly 50 parking meters across the city, covering localities in Anna Nagar, Mylapore, Adyar, T. Nagar, Purasawalkam and G.P. Road. Soon, the six parking meters on G.P. Road will be distributed between Club House Road and some parts of T. Nagar.

The system works well in other localities, particularly in Mylapore, where some attendants even encourage customers to walk up to the meter, use the machine and take their own token. But attendants in Pondy Bazaar, where hundreds of cars are parked every day, are taking customers on a ride. The paucity of adequate parking space and the urgency with which a shopper wants to park at the sight of an empty slot works to their advantage.

S. Venkatesan, who had just parked his vehicle on an empty slot in Pondy Bazaar, handed out a 10 rupee note to the attendant.

“This happens every time I come here. The attendant gives some old token and demand 10 rupees. When I asked him why they charge Rs. 10 when the board says just Rs. 5 per hour, he said the charges had gone up,” said the driver from Mahalingapuram.

Obstacles many

Access to some meters are blocked by toys or cans kept by hawkers in the area. Lack of awareness of the meters also seems to compound the problem. S. Mani, another driver who was waiting beside a parked car in the same row, said: “They ask for 10 rupees, we pay the amount. I have never used the meter myself.”

When contacted, T. Thirugnanasambandan, business development head of Millenium Synergy, said while the company had requested the Corporation to revise pricing, it was “shocking” that some attendants collected more than the actual charge at present.

“It is possible that one or two machines don't work due to problems in the battery. We will look into the issue immediately.”

Observing that the company had a target of Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 9 lakh every month, he said: “We are making only half the amount. As per our contract, 16 per cent of the gross earnings made goes to the Chennai Corporation.”

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012

More In: Chennai

The reason why the police looks the other way while the parking meter attendant is "making hay while the sun shines", is very obvious.Also if more parking meter attendants are employed the more merrier will be the situation in their colloboration with the police.

from:  D.M.Reddy
Posted on: May 11, 2012 at 02:11 IST

i have seen many times where even parking meter not installed some guy
acting as a attendent cliams 100% more than printed tokens and once i
had severe argument with one such guy in T.Nagar and finally found
this man employed by local MLA . one can very well imagine what would
have gone in background which makes me to just forego the money . not
only this , in any issue some politicians involved irrespective of any
party affiliation , joing together and looting the public. in my case
, when a police man , appeared after long time, vanished like a flash
, once he knows the involvement of local MLA. unless basic system
change nothing is possible?

from:  swamy
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 22:32 IST

OR maybe this company got the contract by paying some bribe money to the state govt and therefore does not care to enforce.

from:  Krishnas S Bala
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 16:32 IST

A concise and well written article.

But sadly until the people who park change their tendency to take the extra step to the parking meter we cannot see much change.

Also Chennai Corporation which gets good deal of money if parking meters are used properly must take action on the attendants who take away easy money.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 11:59 IST

All this happens in the centre of the city without the knowledge of our 'elite' police force! Has no policeman ever visited T.Nagar? Or is it not part of the city anymore? These incidents only strengthen public suspicion that our police and corporation officials are very much involved in these organized rackets to fleece the public. The attendants gouging the motorists are simply the tip of the iceberg.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: May 10, 2012 at 05:46 IST
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