Sunday, February 28, 2010

Disappearing bus shelters leave commuters under scorching sun

Disappearing bus shelters leave commuters under scorching sun
Kavitha K, Feb 27, Bangalore:

Waiting at certain BMTC bus-stops in parts of the City has just got more painful. Commuters, especially students, elderly and sick people, on the Jayanagar-Shivajinagar route have discovered, to their dismay, that bus shelters at four consecutive bus-stops have disappeared, leaving them to brave the blazing sun while they wait for a bus.

The shelters and the seats at the bus-stops over a three-km stretch, from Jayanagar Third Block to Ashoka Pillar via Kamala Garden School and Madhavan Park, disappeared a fortnight ago.

Karthika (36), who commutes from Jayanagar VIII Block to her workplace on Double Road, says she noticed that the shelters were missing last week, but hoped they would be replaced by new ones soon. After a week, she went to the staff at the BMTC terminus in Jayanagar IV Block. “They were clueless. They told me to contact the BBMP,” she said.
This route connects several hospitals (Ramakrishna Nursing Home, The Cradle and Clumax Diagnostic Centre in Jayanagar Third Block; Maiyya Hospital in Ashoka Pillar and Mahabodhi Hospital in Siddapura), schools and colleges (NMKRV College, Vijaya High School, Sri Rama Vidya Mandir, Rani Sarala Devi High School,).

The mysterious disappearance of the shelters has inconvenienced both students with heavy school bags as well as elderly people like Vasudev Murthy who travel every day from Jayanagar to a hospital in Siddapura for medicines and physiotherapy. “I am a diabetic and tire easily. I need a place to sit when waiting for a bus. Taking an autorisckshaw is expensive for a pensioner like me. With the bus shelters gone, I end up with a splitting headache apart from feeling very tired,” he explains.
Who uprooted them?

BMTC officials deny any role in the matter. “We have not removed any bus shelter. The Bruhut Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) advertising department is responsible. They have asked private contractors to remove the existing shelters as they are in the process of re-tendering the shelters,” said a BMTC official. BMTC is not making any efforts urging BBMP to hasten the process of replacing the shelters?

Phone calls to the BBMP revealed that private contractors and ad agencies with permission from the Palike are busy pulling down the shelters, and will rebuild them — within four months — despite the fact that these are pre-fabricated structures that can be erected in a matter of hours!

“The five-year lease period for agencies that use bus shelters for advertising has expired. They have been given 120 days by BBMP to remove and refix the shelters. New tenders from ad agencies have been called for the next 5-year period. We can’t keep informing the public every time this happens. Ask the BBMP Joint Commissioner (Advertising) about why the public isn’t informed,” said Govinde Gowda, executive engineering (advertising), BBMP.

BMTC’s assistant traffic manager Jagadish admits that his department has been receiving many complaints from the public about the missing bus shelters. “But we can’t tell the public anything. The BBMP should do it. It has been decided that new bus shelters will be handled by the BMTC. In that case, we will have some answers,” he said.
While the BMTC and the BBMP indulge in buck-passing and bickering, it is good samaritans like Asif, who owns a leather goods shop behind the Jayanagar Third Block bus-stop, who offer shelter and a chair to expectant mothers, elderly folk and the ill, waiting for a bus until the promised new shelter comes up —hopefully before the monsoon.

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