It is not just the traffic jams at Cortalim and Agassaim that are the cause of concern to commuters on this road, but also the dust clouds that rise as each vehicle traverses the stretch where the new bridge over the River Zuari is coming up.
The area is under a constant dust cloud, where particulate matter is not just made up of fine particles, but at times quite substantial in size, that can impede even the vision of the two-wheeler rider. A pollution monitoring station at the Cortalim circle would perhaps give a reading of very high levels of pollution, as the entire area is at various points of time a hazy blur of brown.
Worst affected by the dust are not those driving on this road, but those living in the area – there are houses on the edge of the road whose colour of the walls can hardly be discerned as they are caked with the brown dust – and also the commuters waiting for the bus who breathe the dust that rises in this area. If not immediately dealt with, it can lead to respiratory problems among the residents of Cortalim.
This stretch has more issues than this environment pollution. The traffic congestion on this stretch has led to people missing flights, trains and reaching late to work and back home from work. Office goers two weekends ago arrived at bedtime, rather than dinner time.
The main reasons for the endless lines of vehicles on either side of the bridge is at first glance the result of the ongoing bridge work that has led to narrowing the road and considerably worsening the condition of the road, besides the high volume of traffic on the highway.
There is, however, another reason, that is the drivers who overtake on the wrong side creating bottle necks ahead which slows down the traffic coming up behind. The absence of policemen on the stretch allows this rash overtaking, thereby augmenting the pileup due to the bridge construction.
This is not the first time that traffic congestion on this stretch has resulted in long delays. Whenever it happens, for a few days there are police posted along the stretch and the traffic flow improves. Once the police force is reduced, the congestion begins again. Wouldn’t it be advisable for the authorities to ensure that there is a reasonable number of traffic policemen on this stretch to ensure that the flow of vehicles is not impeded by rash driving. It is understandable that the work on the bridge will lead to some delay, but the unreasonable attitude of some drivers should not add to the woes of the travelling people.
The bridge is over 50 per cent complete, and it is expected to take another two years to complete. There is now news that the construction of a parallel road to bypass this stretch has been approved and that the tender for the work will be out soon and the construction completed within a month.
The time frame is tight, but given that the monsoon will be over the State in early June, a bypass road here is absolutely essential, as otherwise the traffic congestion on the wet muddy road will only increase during the monsoon. The government has to ensure that this is one project that is not delayed.
Until the bypass road is ready and motorable, the authorities have to ensure that traffic on this stretch is not held up on an almost regular basis.
A system to keep the vehicles moving, even if at a slow pace must be devised. It should not take a motorist over two hours to traverse two or three kilometres. This is a sign of incompetence on the part of the authorities and is unacceptable.