Amidst tall claims of tourism promotion through Vytilla Mobility Hub, the ground reality however is not so bright. Meet Thulasidas K T, who opened a tourist facilitation kiosk, ‘Le Lagoons’, at Vytilla Hub one year before running into a debt trap now.
“Running business in hub is nonviable,” says Thulasidas. He decided to shut down his kiosk after he “regularly met with hurdles since day one.”
According to the Vytilla Mobilty Hub Society (VMHS), an agency who wish to establish a kiosk in the Hub should furnish the kiosk area with required furniture and establish the stall. The agreement clause makes it mandatory for any agency to mobilise the kiosk within two weeks from the date of letter of acceptance after which monthly rent will be deduced from the agency.
“It means you will get just two weeks to construct and furnish a kiosk. Forget 14, in a place like Kerala it will take at least 40 days to complete even the construction activities,” said Thulasidaran.
Besides, the authorities do not allow inter-state private buses to enter the Hub. Call taxi and resting room facilities, which have immense importance in tourist facilitation, also cannot enter the Hub. Business gets dull for kiosks running inside the Hub with these rigid restrictions, said Thulasidas.
As inter-state private buses do not ply through the Hub, the kiosks get very few orders for booking tickets in these buses which would have provided a good profit. “This was against the advertisement put forward by the VMHS which said even Volvo buses will enter the Hub,” said Thulasidas.
Highly placed sources in VMHS says the authorities fear the legality of inter-state private buses. “As many of them are illegal, we have made strict restriction against permitting inter-state private buses,” said the source.
On the issue of allowing call taxis, VMHS managing director M Beena said it’s a policy decision of VMHS keeping in mind the safety of the passengers.
“It’s true that passengers getting down at the Hub, including tourists, have to walk half-a-kmr to get a call taxi. We can’t allow buses and cars together to run inside hub because it may not be safe. Many of our airports work this way only,” she said.
Even if one wish to discontinue his kiosk at the hub, it’s difficult to get the advance money back, said Thulasidas. “I had invested around Rs 7 lakh in the kiosk with the help of a bank loan. Now the authorities are saying that I will get my money back only after they find someone to take the kiosk after re-tendering. How will I repay my loan for so long,” asks Thulasidas.