A few years ago, the road connecting National Highway 17-A to National Highway 17-B and leading to Dabolim Airport and Vasco via Vales Junction in Alto Dabolim and St Jacinto island was hardly used because of its dilapidated condition.
Commuters proceeding to and from Dabolim airport and even from Vasco would use this road only during emergencies, however, one the road was hot mixed, it grew in importance as a large number of taxi drivers ferrying passengers to and from Dabolim airport, besides locals and other two wheeler riders, started using it.
In the last two years, from almost zero traffic, the road currently handles a large volume of traffic with over 1200 vehicles using the road during peak hours (airport operations timing) as it cuts the distance by a substantial number of kilometres. Most of the vehicles using it are taxis and from a deserted road, today this shortcut has become a major accident prone area with minor accidents taking place daily.
Reasons leading to the accidents include the narrow width of the road that has a hill wall on one side and a drop to the valley below on the other side. It also has over five sharp, blind curves.
“We are not against taxi drivers using the road to proceed to and from Dabolim Airport and also not against other drivers using the road. We want that all those using the road maintain a slow speed, especially on the sharp curves which are a death trap. Due to speeding traffic there have been accidents and this should stop or else innocent people will continue to fall victim to rash driving,” Vidyanagar Resident’s Welfare Association President Edward Fernandes said.
Other residents of the area and users of the road have similar grievances and have demanded immediate attention from the concerned officials to ensure that the road that has a beautiful valley view should once again become user friendly and not a deathtrap.
“I feel that traffic officials should initiate steps to close the opening of road median which has been facilitating commuters to come on the National Highway while proceeding from St Jacinto Island to Dabolim. We have seen taxi drivers chasing each other to reach Dabolim airport first and their high speed risks theirs and others lives. Taxi drivers should call for a joint meeting and make their members aware about the hardships faced by the local commuters so that no more accidents take place on this stretch of road,” a resident of the area, Nilesh Kumar, said.
Chicalim Sarpanch Neelima Naik has raised concerns over the speeding traffic on the stretch of road and urged taxi drivers and others to slow down. She said she would take up the issue of road widening and installation of crash barrier along the road. “The road has literary become a deathtrap and our Panchayat has decided to ask the traffic police to erect speed breakers before all sharp curves. Similarly we will try to explore all possibilities to widen the road besides erecting crash barriers along it on priority.”
Inquiries with the Vasco Police traffic cell revealed that PI Traffic Sudesh Narvekar has already forwarded a proposal to national highway to close down an opening of road median near Vales Junction so that vehicles using the shortcut to proceed to Dabolim airport should avoid using the road and instead use the road connecting Chicalim junction to reach the airport.