Construction activities make life miserable for vehicle users

TNSTC buses are operated from TPK Road due to the construction of Integrated Periyar Bus Stand in Madurai, causing heavy traffic jam.

TNSTC buses are operated from TPK Road due to the construction of Integrated Periyar Bus Stand in Madurai, causing heavy traffic jam.   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK


TNSTC suffers the most as patronage and daily collection dip


Till a fortnight ago, it was just the dust that troubled vehicle users crossing key locations such as Periyar bus stand and Kalavasal on the south side and New Natham Road on the north side of the city. However, after the rains started, the situation has gone from bad to worse. On the one hand, freak accidents are reported daily at these locations as vehicle users and pedestrians have no clue about where the roads are slippery or where the workers have dug pits as part of construction activities.

The absence of signboards and caution boards on roads has only complicated the situation as pilgrims visiting Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple and Kallazhagar Temple had a harrowing experience last week with the start of the rainy season. Many vehicles got stuck in the slushy soil heaped on the roadside by workers near Shopping Complex bus stand.

Vehicular movement getting stranded has become a regular affair and police personnel feel that there is neither self-discipline among road users nor adequate strength to enforce traffic rules. Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses literally encroached upon roadsides at Periyar bus stand and also along Shopping Complex bus stand, which has been closed to facilitate construction work inside. Consequently, carriage space has shrunk. Vehicles get stranded in both directions. The purpose of the automatic signal at Periyar bus stand intersection is defeated almost at every turn that many have met with freak accidents.

On Sunday night, the authorities ‘suddenly’ stopped vehicle movement from Subramaniapuram side towards Periyar bus stand, confounding road users. Vehicles coming from the south are directed to take a right turn on Mayor Muthu Bridge after crossing The Madura College and take South Veli Street in view of the ongoing work.

Vehicle users from Subramaniapuram and other areas, who are going to the railway junction or Head Post Office, find the move baffling. A traffic police officer said two-wheelers could move on the stretch, but commercial and heavy vehicles should take Palanganatham junction-Bypass Road-Ellis Nagar bridge route to reach the railway junction, as the authorities, in a bid to speed up the construction work, wanted traffic closed on the stretch.

Corporation engineers said that a massive development work such as this would inconvenience people, but when new bridges and bus stand came up, it would only benefit them. “They have to cooperate with the officials,” Commissioner S. Visakan told The Hindu. “We are concerned about public safety. Hence to follow the schedule, we have taken a decision to curtail vehicle movement after consensus with other agencies/stakeholders involved in the mega project,” he added.

The TNSTC was the worst affected among the road users as it was not only losing passenger patronage and daily collection, but also incurring a huge rise in expenditure on diesel and upkeep of buses, a branch manager of a city depot said.

Usually, the TNSTC depots got about five to 10 breakdown calls from the crew every day. With bridge construction works in progress, many mofussil buses were breaking down, he said.

A senior TNSTC official said that the city had a fleet of 620 buses for city routes and 130 buses for mofussil routes such as Melur and Tirupuvanam. On an average, the TNSTC recorded a daily net collection of ₹1.01 crore nowadays as against the daily net collection of ₹1.30 crore made in the corresponding period in 2018.

Transport Corporation Staff Federation deputy general secretary S. Sampath said that apart from the construction activities, the TNSTC employees were burdened with overtime. Leaves sought by many employees for genuine reasons were not granted by their superiors, he said, adding the bus crew were giving their best in diesel consumption. The upkeep of vehicles was up to the government, he said.

Marumalarchi Labour Front State joint general secretary Mahaboob John said that poor planning by the administrators had let to the chaotic situation. Be it peak hour or non-peak hour, Periyar bus stand and Kalavasal junction were the worst hit areas. There was no prior information about road closure or diversion. The police were unfriendly and the contractors were more interested in making profit than ensuring the safety of road users, he said.

However, the Corporation Commissioner asserted that the inconvenience caused to the road users would be temporary. Steps had been taken to clear the debris and slush, and low-lying areas had been identified for necessary action, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 6:22:34 AM |

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