BEST to free bus stops from beggars, hawkers

Apr 23, 2013, 06:53 IST | Shashank Rao

Following a Gujarati MiD DAY report on hawkers and beggars encroaching bus stops, BEST officials have finally woken up and assured that concrete action will be taken

If you are often forced to stand in the scorching sun or fight pouring rain because your local bus stops are encroached by hawkers, families of beggars, urchins and sometimes even drug addicts, there might be some breathing space for you at hand.

A hawker displays his collection at a bus stop at Bandra’s Hill Road

After reading Gujarati MiD DAY’s report published on April 19, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport’s general manager O P Gupta and committee chairman Sanjay Ambole announced on Monday that measures will be taken to rectify the situation.

BEST committee members have claimed that they have made several complaints to the administration of the transport authority but no serious action has been taken yet. “Drug addicts and hawkers leave no space for commuters to stand or sit at the bus stop,” said Bhaskar Khursange, BEST committee member from NCP, who lives in Borivli.

MiD DAY had reported (‘Home is where the bus stops’, July 12, 2012) about how a family from the Agripada slums had converted a bus stop into their residence. File pics

“It is a serious issue if unauthorised hawkers have taken over the bus stops. All 6,000 bus stops will be checked by our teams,” Gupta said. There are close to 200 bus stops that have been encroached by hawkers. However, BEST officials claim that resolving the issue is problematic since the roads belong to the municipal corporation.

Asked if the BEST and BMC will join hands to save the stops from the menace, a senior official said that it is a social issue and the responsibility to govern them falls equally on both the authorities. Meanwhile, BEST committee chairman Ambole said, “There is a need for patrolling to ensure that hawkers don’t return after they have been asked to leave.”

BEST steers clear of colourblind drivers

The BEST plans to ask about 142 drivers to refrain from driving buses as they have been diagnosed with colour blindness, which could put commuters’ lives at risk. “It is BEST’s fault that these drivers weren’t tested in time,” said Sanjay Hombalkar, BEST committee member from the MNS. These drivers will be asked to stay off the roads and given lighter, less intensive roles.

“Eye tests are done during induction. If we have doubts that a driver suffers from issues related to eyesight, only then are further tests carried out,” said BEST GM OP Gupta. All drivers have to go through regular eye checkups after crossing 45 years of age. 

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