Trust our government authorities to focus on the bigger picture, while forgetting that at times, it’s the many small cogs that make the wheel function smoothly. While the operational date of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s new terminal 2 has been announced as February 12, the authorities seem to have ignored the chaos it would lead to, as there has been no parking area assigned for the taxis yet. The world-class terminal lacks a parking area for taxis because of which the authorities have decided that they will allow 25 cool cabs and 30 black and yellow taxis to go through at a given time.
Moreover, they have not even managed to set up a date for meeting the taxi unions in order to brief about the new terminal and to ensure that they are well-aware of how to enter and exit the airport. “We don’t even know where the pick-up point is. There is going to be a lot of chaos if the authorities continue to remain silent,” said Lakhman Gorad, general secretary, Bhartiya Taxi Chaalak Sangh.
“Traffic is a major concern in the area and the problems will aggravate, as there are no parking facilities available at the new terminal,” said a taxi driver on condition of anonymity. It should be noted that the current parking is at a ground adjacent to The Leela hotel, which is 500-600 metres away from the new terminal and takes nearly four to five minutes to reach the existing international airport. However, taxi drivers claim they take not less than 15-20 minutes due to traffic at peak hours.
“We have been told that a meeting will be fixed with us before the terminal becomes operational but we haven’t been given a date yet,” said Rakesh Mishra, secretary, Bhartiya Taxi Chaalak Sangh. Confirming that the parking area for the taxis will take another two years to make, a GVK official said, “We have around 50 parking bays that can be utilised by the taxi drivers as waiting area. We will ensure that no inconvenience is caused to the passengers.”
However, an official from Mumbai International Airport Pvt Limited (MIAL) told SUNDAY MiD DAY, “Though we will take two years to build the parking area for taxis, it hardly takes two minutes to reach the airport through the slope (Sahar elevated road).” The official further added, “The time taken by them will be less as the new terminal is comparatively at a shorter distance than the existing Sahar airport. We will take them around at least seven days before T2 gets operational.”
Another official confirmed that the Sahar international will be gradually brought down and the entire area will be used as apron (the area of an airport where aircrafts are parked, unloaded or loaded, replenished, or boarded). “It is then that the parking areas would be made,” said the official.
Demands of the taxi unions
Canteen facility on the basis of no profit no loss system
Pure drinking water for the taxi drivers
Pick-up point and parking areas should be nearby
Washroom facility for the taxi drivers
Taxi drivers speak:
“We have managed to serve the passengers without any complaint as the existing international airport has a taxi stand, but we do not know how will things be worked out for the new terminal” Mehmood Alam, taxi driver since 24 years
“Traffic problems start from 6 pm onwards and continue till 10.30 pm. During this time, we take at least 15-20 minutes to reach the terminal. Since we haven’t been informed of any changes, we expect the situation to be the same.” Abul Sheikh, taxi driver since 25 years
“I am absolutely clueless about how things are going to be regarding the new terminal. Unless our union leaders are informed about the new developments, we will
remain clueless.” Jagdish Yadav, taxi driver since 15 years