‘I feared a stampede’: Chennai IPL fans decry lack of safe transport facilities

The government should have anticipated this crowd because the game has returned to Chennai after four years, a commuter said, demanding an increase in transport facilities before the upcoming matches.

Fans of the Indian Premier League (IPL) who attended matches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in the Chepauk region of Chennai have complained of inconvenience due to limited public transport services after midnight. Most people can’t come to the match in their own vehicles because the stadium doesn’t have enough parking facilities, fans said, demanding additional services with improved security for upcoming matches. 

Hariharan, a resident of Chennai, said he arrived at the stadium in his car two hours before to watch the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) match on April 21, but there were no parking spots available. “I feel it is better to travel by local train or metro to attend the matches since the stations are close in proximity to the stadium,” he said. Besides, fans with tickets to CSK’s home matches have been offered free metro rides, their game tickets doubling as metro tickets.

But this convenience has come at the cost of overcrowding and security lapses at the metro stations, many have alleged. “Since metro rides are free for those who purchase match tickets, the stations are packed. The escalators were not working at the Chepauk station on the night of April 21. Instead, people were sitting on them, waiting for less crowded trains. I myself skipped three crowded trains and went on the fourth,” said Arun Bharadhwaj, a commuter. It was extremely hard to navigate through the crowds, he added.

Similar issues were highlighted by citizens who arrived at the stadium via the Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) trains. “My spectacles broke while trying to board a train towards Velachery after a match. I feared a stampede,” another commuter, Viraj, told TNM. Sahana, who also travelled in the same route, said it was an understatement to call the Chepauk station crowded. “I was feeling safe only because I was surrounded by a lot of my friends,” she said. Arun said additional deployment of security could help with the safety for female passengers as well.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Azhar who left the stadium in a TNSTC bus raised concern about the low frequency of buses at night. “The government should have anticipated this crowd because the game has returned to Chennai after four years. This also happens to be MS Dhoni’s last season. The frequency of services certainly needs to be increased before the next matches,” he added.

In the coming weeks, the MA Chidambaram stadium is set to host four games followed by two play offs.

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