A view of the old bus stand at Margao. (Ganadeep Sheldekar)
BY ROQUE DIAS | NT
MARGAO: Private bus owners are found to be parking their route buses anywhere around Margao taking up whatever available space in the town since bus parking at the old bus stand has been banned by a recent order to ease congestion.
The District Magistrate, South, Mr N D Agrawal, in the last week implemented the order, issued by the then district collector in the year 1988, to move all the buses from the old bus stand to the KTC bus stand and using it (old bus stand) only as a bus stop.
This move of the District Collector, Mr Agrawal, however, has invited the ire of the commuters, bus owners, and those who are dependent on them for their business here at the old bus stand.
The bus owners and others had on earlier occasion negated the efforts of then district collector, making use of the political pressure.
“This is not the new order. I am just implementing the 1988 order. The issue of parking was raised during one of the meetings and that the traffic cell of Margao had informed that they had the space at the old bus stand to be used for parking. Considering the parking woes of the people of Margao, I was compelled to implement the said order,” explained the District Collector, Mr Agrawal, while speaking to this reporter.
He said that it is the need of the hour to decongest the city. “I personally visited the place and after convincing myself, the instructions were issued to the traffic cell,’’ he added.
Ever since the order was issued to these bus owners, many of them park their buses in the areas of Comba, near Clube Harmonia, and on the shoulders of the interior roads closer to the town. Sources revealed that there were in all 130 buses plying to 14 destinations from the old bus stand. But, recently, the 50-odd city buses, operating from the KTC bus stand, ply to Housing Board and Davorlim destinations without entering the town.
The operators plying the buses on the routes of Betalbatim, Loutolim, Shiroda, and Verna used to get more passengers at the old bus stand, due the nearby market and commercial offices, and hence used to park the vehicles at the old bus stand.
Interestingly, the bus owners claim that “since 1988, a lot of water has flown down the Zuari bridge and lot of changes occurred in the town. Number of buildings increased without proper parking spaces.”
“We should also be taken into confidence while issuing these instructions as there are practical difficulties faced by us in adhering to these orders,’’ a bus owner and the former executive member of bus owners association said.
He pointed out that the traffic congestion, from KTC to the old bus stand, is so much that there is no guarantee that within specified time, they would reach the old bus stand to pick up passengers in only three minutes.
“On account of this fear, many of the bus owners look for the open spaces, and conveniently park the buses even on the road shoulders, so that we reach in time and save our trip to earn the daily living,’’ he added.
Another bus owner said, that they would not be able to grease the palms of the traffic police if they are shifted from here.
The parking issue and the development of open spaces within the town were also discussed in the Margao Municipal Council meeting held on Wednesday.
“For the first time the council took a resolution to develop the open space and mark it as the bus stop so that these bus owners do not lose their business,’’ informed the councilor, Mr Avinash Shirodkar.
He opined that the Collector needed to discuss the issue in detail. Sources informed that several attempts made by the district administration were foiled by the politician themselves fearing that their actions may boomerang on them at the time of election.
The city petrol pump owners and the market associations had also joined them, and the pressure created had led to the orders being put into the cold storage.