[ Junroi Mamai ]
With the holidays approaching, many of us are preparing to leave for our hometowns to spend time with our families. There is a lot of commuting going on, especially during this month. A lot of interstate travellers depend upon the state transport facilities to reach their destinations. Though the facilities provided by the Arunachal Pradesh State Transport Services (APSTS) have improved much in recent times with the introduction of Volvo buses and Force Traveller taxi services to various district headquarters of the state, the department still needs to do a lot to ensure a better and comfortable journey for the interstate travellers.
The condition of the APSTS bus stations in various places in Assam is pathetic. Most of them look like remnants of ancient times, owing to lack of timely repair and maintenance. These bus stations were established two or three decades ago and are presently languishing due to neglect.
The buildings are in shambles and the toilets reek. One cannot even bear to stand outside the toilets for over a minute but, unfortunately, the passengers have no option. Travellers, especially women, have to face much trouble finding a clean toilet with running water to relieve themselves.
I remember, some time back, when in Margherita, which is in Tinsukia district of Assam, I had to use the toilet and I reached the corner of the APSTS office building where the toilets are located. The stink of urine near the toilets was overpowering and the floor was flooded with water. I managed to do my business while holding my breath for as long as I possibly could.
The office of the APSTS there itself was decrepit and had a broken window in the front and had deep cracks on the floor everywhere. The building is in dire need of maintenance. It has not been repaired for decades.
As I went outside to wait for my taxi, I spoke to one of the oldest shopkeepers there – an owner of a decades-old fruit stall near the APSTS office premises. He told me that he has never used the toilets in the bus station in all these years because of the horrible stench of the toilets. Such is the pathetic condition of the APSTS-run bus stations currently outside the state, despite the fact that thousands of inter-district travellers need to reach the stations from every part of the state. The APSTS could work on improving the condition of its office buildings and bus stations everywhere outside the state. If it cannot repair the whole office, the least the APSTS could do is make sure that the toilets are clean and the waiting shed areas have proper sitting facility for the thousands of travellers who arrive there on a daily basis.
Being the highest revenue generating department of the state, the APSTS could work on improving facilities in these bus stations. Timely maintenance of the APST offices and cleaner toilets for both male and female passengers is the least the department can do for the state’s travellers.