Security barricades stumbling block for Elephanta visitors
Ticket counters have been shifted to a fortified location; ferry operators claim loss in business due to the change
For Ganesh Kamte and his children visiting the Gateway of India and boarding a ferry to Elephanta caves is a must-do in the summer vacation. But, on a recent visit to the iconic monument, Kamte was frantically searching for the ticket counter to purchase tickets for the ferry service. Assuming that the ferry service has been terminated, he dejectedly turned to leave when a photographer informed him that the ticket counter has been shifted to the kiosk behind the garden.
“I had come to Gateway with my kids to take them to Elephanta caves. But the ticket counters were undetectable. I thought the services have been discontinued and was about to leave. However, after I enquired with a photographer, I was informed that the counter has been shifted to some weird place that nobody can locate. What made it worse is that the entry to the counter was barricaded,” said Ganesh Kamte, a frequent visitor.
Almost two weeks after ferry ticket-vending counters and food stalls at Gateway of India were shifted to Bay Road, stall owners are complaining of loss in business due to the placement of barricades by Mumbai police in front of their shops, which are now difficult to spot for visitors.
Shop owners opine that this has led to confusion and inconveniences to the tourists who turn back thinking ferry services have been discontinued.
Dismayed with the turn of events, a group of operators approached the DCP of the area five days ago requesting cops to shun the barricades that are resulting in losses to boat owners.
However, owners claim that police paid no heed to their concerns, and have asked them to approach the police commissioner for the same.
“We were shifted to the kiosks stating the barricades will be removed once we shift. It’s almost 15 days now that we have moved to this new place, but the barricades are still rooted. We are losing out on business, as the entry points to the kiosks are blocked with barriers. Tourists coming here are confused whether the ferry service has been discontinued,” said Suhas Padte, a ferry boat owner.
Padte grumbled that many boat owners have now stationed their men near the jetty to direct visitors to the kiosks. Not only this. There were reports about how the kiosks had been taken over by drug addicts and other anti-social elements. “The place is so untidy, and with these barricades in place and these huge walls, tourists cannot locate our offices. We fear a huge loss if no solution is provided soon,” said Padte.
The Gateway plaza restoration was completed in May 2009. However, the stalls were shifted just 15 days back due to the civic body’s inability to take a decision on the rents to be charged and ways to recover arrears for the current location. Repeated attempts to contact deputy commissioner of police (zone 1) Chhering Dorje were futile, as he was unavailable for comment.