CHENNAI: While Chennai Metro Rail officials repeatedly claim that they are close to beginning operations, they don’t seem to have the necessary infrastructure in place. When City Express visited the Koyambedu Metro Station, from where the first commercial run is expected to commence soon, it was found that there were no proper footpaths and not even a bus stop. The entire place is poorly lit, except for a crowded TASMAC shop in the neighbourhood.
A study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy had suggested the need to upgrade footpaths and create new pedestrian-friendly streets in the 500-metre vicinity of all metro rail stations to make the Rs 14,000-crore project accessible for the people.
However, nothing has been implemented so far on that, said ITDP technical director Christopher Kost. The footpaths built by the State Highways Department do not meet standards, he said, adding that the stretch didn’t have any bus stops yet. “Both footpaths and bus stops have to be integrated at the design stage itself. You can’t have a footpath first and then a bus stop,” says Kost.
Even the proposed parking lot for the station is yet to materialise. “The stretch is already crowded with luxury bases, State transport buses as well as trucks frequenting the market. The Chennai Metro Rail and other departments working on the project should have completed their homework by now and should have got the parking lot ready,” said a traffic policeman deputed in the area.
“We don’t have a police booth yet. This was also part of the design,” he says. The Traffic Police have raised the issue with Chennai Metro Rail authorities.
“We have submitted a letter to the authorities, but no action has been taken till now,” he says.
Another complaint is that the area is poorly lit. “It is like a tunnel,” says Suresh, a commuter. Many pointed out that the brightest spot on the stretch was a liquor retail shop.
Senior officials of the Chennai Metro Rail refused to comment, while a spokesman said all facilities would be in place once the Metro Rail commenced operation on the 10-km stretch between Koyambedu and Alandur.
One of the important facilities for commuters who are expected to use to the metro rail station everyday once it commences operation is the skywalk at Koyambedu Station. This was planned for passengers who have to cross the busy Poonamallee High Road. However, the work is only half done till date, and seems it would take a long time going by the present pace of work. The incomplete work has not prevented officials from planning a new connectivity to the station from across the Cooum river. “We are planning a bridge under the elevated stretch,” says a Metro Rail official. But it is not yet clear how long it would take to complete this. “We are awaiting the nod from the government,” adds the official. Similarly, covered footpaths with proper lighting were also planned. Like other plans, this one has not seen any progress.