The Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G.R. Bus Terminus in Koyambedu has become a prominent multi-modal transport hub, attracting a footfall of more than 1 lakh daily.
Having both the city and State transport services and the Metro Rail all under one roof and the private omni bus bus stand next door makes the sprawling facility one of the major transport hubs in the city, alongside the Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G. Ramachandran Central Railway Station.
Despite the bus terminus having most civic amenities, such as public toilets, drinking water dispensers and shops, and safety amenities, such as a police station on its premises, commuters have complained about poor maintenance and hygiene and lack of safety. They said that strangers occupied the bus terminus at night, creating an unsafe environment for commuters, particularly women.
The bus terminus, spread over 36 acres with a built up space of nearly 18,000 sq.ft, is being managed by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). The regular commuters to the bus terminus pointed out that during night time, some anti-social elements drank liquor at secluded spots in the terminus, littering the bus bay with liquor bottles.
S. Janani, who regularly commutes to her native place in Kanniyakumari from the Koyambedu bus terminus, said that during the day, the bus terminus, despite the heavy crowd looked safe, but during night, people slept in the bus bays and platforms even though there were private security personnel on the premises.
A senior official of the CMDA said a lot of homeless persons and workers of the nearby vegetable markets occupied the bus terminus at night. Adding to the poor hygiene were the bus crews who reportedly urinated near the bus bays despite the availability of ample public toilet facilities free of charge, causing the bus bays to stink.
Sources in the CMDA said since complaints were received last week, Member Secretary Anshul Mishra, accompanied by senior officials and police personnel, inspected the bus terminus and found that the main cause of the poor hygiene was due to a majority of the bus crew of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) and the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) used the bus bays to answer their nature’s call near parked buses. The team also found that the police presence was minimal though the CMBT police station was located on the premises, the official added.
As part of improving the premise’s cleanliness and hygiene, the bus bays will be cleaned with disinfectants to get rid of the stink, and the procurement of battery-operated cleaner machines is being planned to take up intensive cleaning. On the safety front, the police have proposed to increase the strength of the personnel on the premises and will post a constable at the booth inside the terminal. Regular patrolling of the premises will also be taken up after 10 p.m. to prevent strangers from occupying the bus bays.
A senior official of the police said after the safety issue was brought to the notice, a drive was initiated over the past week under the supervision of Police Joint Commissioner (West) M. Manohar. This drive involved the posting of dedicated personnel, round-the-clock police presence, surprise inspections by senior officials and checks against gutkha and ganja.