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After 3-weeks free run for passengers, Airport fee kiosks are back in business

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(G.N.S) Dt. 12
Kolkata
The free parking interlude that cars enjoyed for nearly a month at Kolkata airport came to an end on Wednesday evening as parking attendants began collecting fees at the exit lane kiosks. However, there were no logjams like earlier, which had led to complaints earlier, due to a smart queue management system.
The agency manning the parking booths have started using two out of the three lanes in the previous exit bay kiosk while allowing cars to leave through the rightmost lane. The cars that are leaving the right lane are being channelled into three other kiosks in the new under-construction bay.
Motorists had been enjoying a free trip to the airport over the past three weeks as the parking fee collection booths stayed unmanned from December 17 after four attendants and the agency manager were arrested for allegedly assaulting actors Koushik and Riddhi Sen when they complained of extortion in the name of parking fee collection. Over the past few months, several passengers had raised allegations of being held up in long queues at the exit plaza and then charged Rs 100 for exceeding the free 10 minutes allowed to drop off or pick up a flier. If a motorist refused to pay, bouncers deployed by the agency would reportedly rough them up, forcing them to pay.
“We are now using five kiosks to collect parking fee, which has solved the problem of logjam for the time being. We have been waiting for the new bay to come up with six lanes when we would have shifted our kiosks from the old bay to the new one. But we have been running a loss over the past three weeks and decided to start fee collection from Wednesday itself,” said Adhir Jana, the manager of the Kolkata unit of SS Enterprise, the agency manning the kiosks. Jana, however, added that this move was temporary as the old bay will be demolished soon. “We are improving our infrastructure by introducing uniforms for our attendants and installing automated parking barriers,” said Jana.
“The airport authority asked us to start operations and the cops allowed us permission to use three kiosks from the under-construction bay,” another official of SS Enterprise said, adding that the company was losing around Rs 4-5 lakh every day from parking fee collection whereas they had to pay Rs 1.3 crore every month to the AAI.
Asenior officer of Bidhannagar Commissionerate said they gave a green signal to the agency to restart operations using the new kiosks, but clearly added that they would shut them down if there was a queue of more than 10 vehicles at a time.
“We have made it clear. They need to work faster with more kiosks and if we notice man-made logjams that force motorists to miss the 10-minute free window, we will close the kiosks again and will allow cars to leave without paying any fee. So far, there have been no complaints about the new system from the motorists,” said the officer.

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