Four years after they were launched, the Wi-Fi bus shelters in the city have been reduced to badly-scarred skeletons of their former selves.
Set up at a cost of Rs. 2.5 lakh, the 12 shelters in and around Mananchira perished quickly at the hands of anti-social elements and to the forces of nature.
While a wayside tree fell on one, destroying it completely, the rest were stripped off its aluminium panels, FM loudspeakers and even the steel chairs fixed to the ramp.
What is left is a poor shadow of what was once touted as the ‘new-generation’ public facility.
Rusty iron beams poke out of the ceiling, election posters and graffiti adorn the pock-marked walls, while spittle and cigarette stubs clutter the floor.
The trendy shelters were meant to be a comfort zone for the public waiting for buses with free-of-charge Wi-Fi service provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, chilled drinking water, FM music and surveillance cameras beaming images directly to the Police Control Room.
The project was a 2009 joint venture of the Kozhikode Corporation and a private advertisement firm to set up 100-odd bus shelters across the city.
The first phase saw the inauguration of shelters at junctions at SBT, Head Post Office, Government Model School and Town Hall a year later.
“The project may have been before its time. The people-friendly shelters fell prey to anti-social elements and those who used it after regular hours. It is up to the public to maintain and protect such facilities. Lack of awareness may have been a reason why the project failed,” Prof. A.K. Premajam, City Mayor, said.
Regional Transport Officer Rajeev Puthalath said the city should look at an overall change in public transport facilities rather than indulge in out-of-theme projects like Wi-Fi bus shelters.
He said the civic body’s onus should be on providing basic facilities for bus passengers like bus bays in the front of the shelters.
“Majority of the bus shelters do not have bus bays. Buses stand right on the middle of the road, blocking traffic and endangering the lives of the people, especially in crowded places,” Mr. Puthalath said.
He said the motor vehicles department has sent a request to the corporation to provide space for a bus bay in the busy Mavoor Road.