The queues of vehicles at Cortalim and Agassaim, waiting to cross the River Zuari, are getting longer and the people’s patience is getting proportionately shorter. The possibility of the road from Kesarval to the Cortalim Circle getting shut for traffic and vehicles being diverted via a longer route for eight months is aggravating the frayed tempers that are being witnessed on this route. People are not looking for a diversion but for solutions to the interminable waits on either side of the Zuari river. When a five-minute drive from the base of the Kesarval hill to the Agasaim police station turns into a two-hour struggle accompanied by blowing horns and bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can’t expect that a proposed diversion through narrow roads will be readily accepted.
It has not, and going by the reactions of the people on social media, it will take some amount of convincing from the authorities for the people to accept this diversion. This is a major national highway leading all the way to Kanyakumari. It may not be used by large transport vehicles due to the instability of the existing bridge over the River Zuari at this same point. It is, however, the main conduit connecting North Goa to South Goa and closing this stretch of road for all traffic will lengthen the journey of thousands of daily commuters who travel from the North to the South or from the South to the North to earn their living. Has this been thought of? Obviously not and let’s look back at the history of the bridge.
On New Year’s Day of 2016, speaking to the people at the ceremony to lay the foundation stone for this bridge, the then Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, now the Chief Minister of the State, had called upon the people to adopt a New Year resolution to have a positive attitude towards development projects in the State.Three years later, there appears to be a rather negative attitude towards the construction of this same bridge. Not to the bridge, as it is a requirement, but to the absence of vision at the planning stage to the possible problems that could be caused. Was the possibility of such a diversion thought of at that time? It is three years since the foundation stone was laid, and there has been ample time to think up possibilities to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. This obviously was not done.
For that matter, before suggesting a diversion of the traffic via Vasco that will lead to an additional 18-kilometre drive, did the construction company consider the possibility of a service road to divert traffic and allow construction to continue simultaneously? The third bridge over the Mandovi is also under construction, but there was no major diversion necessitated. Yes, there were traffic jams and long delays, but the traffic flowed by and the construction process continued side-by-side. Why can’t such an arrangement be worked out at Cortalim? It will not require any great engineering genius to suggest a solution to this problem, that is nothing but a minor irritant that has been converted into a major issue by not addressing it in the first place.
Until then, can there also be a solution found to the current traffic jams on either side of the bridge? Vehicles are queuing up, and the absence of traffic policemen on the route leads to vehicles driving on the road shoulders in attempts to reach the front and causing additional snarls leading to further delays that can be avoided if every vehicle follows the other. Just this will ease the chaotic situation to a large extent. Give the people solutions, not diversions, should be the motto of this administration.