KSRTC faces flak for building ill-conceived bus terminals
Agency in process of relocating Ernakulam bus stand to Karikkamuri
With massive bus terminal complexes of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) ending up defeating their very purpose, and becoming a perennial strain on the exchequer, the latest being the fiasco about the twin-tower bus terminal in Kozhikode, the demand is rife that the State Government be doubly cautious while constructing new bus terminals.
Especially so since the KSRTC is in the process of relocating its bus stand in Ernakulam to adjacent Karikkamuri and what was conceived as a ₹2-crore modern garage-cum- administrative office and ticketing office of the agency on the land abutting Karikkamuri had to be abandoned in 2015, after it developed gaping cracks and fell into disuse even before it was commissioned. As per a tentative plan readied in 2020, the bus terminal ought to be relocated to Karikkamuri and the shoddily-maintained buildings at the existing stand demolished, to pave the way for a multi-storied commercial structure.
The ₹2-crore funding for the garage-cum-office complex came from the MLA funds of Hibi Eden, presently Ernakulam MP, from which ₹65 lakh was paid to the contractor who built the crack-ridden structure which would have to be demolished. “Release of the balance ₹1.35 crore was stopped once the cracks were detected. I raised three submissions before the Legislative Assembly during the time of the previous LDF regime, demanding that the contractor be blacklisted from all government works, and seeking disciplinary action against the then chief engineer of the KSRTC. But no punitive action was taken against the culprits,” Mr. Eden said.
“This and the spree of other failed mega bus terminal projects of the KSRTC show that the agency’s engineering wing is a total failure. It is high time it was disbanded, erring officials taken to task and replaced with a team of professionals having integrity. Else, it will add to the mess that the RTC finds itself in. The ₹1.35-crore unspent funds should be used for the new bus terminal proposed in the heart of the city at Karikkamury, wherein primacy must be accorded to ready modern passenger amenities and ample space to park buses and other vehicles,” he added.
A senior KSRTC official admitted that unscrupulous officials in the agency’s engineering wing are to blame for the state of affairs of its bus terminals and stands. “At least, consecutive CMDs ought to have taken care to avoid such fiascos.”
Passenger-friendly facilities sought
Agencies that extend loan for bus terminal-cum-shopping complexes must ensure that the structures are passenger friendly and are devoid of too many floors, since such multi-rise structures that the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) built at Thampanoor in Thiruvananthapuram, Angamaly, and the controversial twin towers in Kozhikode, have proved to be a damp squib, said D. Dhanuraj, chairman of city-based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) which helped realise Vyttila Mobility Hub, an inter-modal hub for buses, ferries and Kochi Metro.
“The ill-conceived bus terminals, which have become a liability for the KSRTC, have proved yet again that the agency is ill-equipped to construct them and to rent/lease out the premises.
“Their terms of reference must be properly framed and their design and construction entrusted to private agencies, much like the way IT parks were built in Kerala. In addition, transport/urban planners must be roped in from their planning stage. This will not only prevent loss, but help the KSRTC earn revenue in the long run,” he added.