29 Dec 2019 | 06:09am IST
No care for commuters at Cortalim junction!
When commuters experienced traffic jams at the end of 2018, they expected that the situation would improve in the months to come. However, at the end of 2019, the situation has only taken a turn for the worse. With the narrow lanes on either side of the Cortalim junction bursting at its seams given the amount of tourists, it’s bound to be one of the biggest traffic jam this New Year’s Eve.
DHIRAJ HARMALKAR takes a ride on this dusty road and tracks back the bumpy journey commuters had to experience throughout the year
There appears to be no respite in sight for commuters who have to pass through the Cortalim junction to get to Margao/Vasco/Loutolim/ Panjim. Those who pass through this route on a regular basis have given up hope and have gotten used to the daily traffic jams. But every now and then, even their patience is tested as these traffic jams, that last a couple of hours, can be extremely frustrating and very tough to endure.
As New Year’s Eve is approaching, the number of vehicles of the roads has also increased given the high number of tourists who are visiting Goa. While Goa Police have emphasized that they have put in place adequate plans, it is visible that they too are finding it tough to cater to the volume of traffic. In this week alone, there have been traffic jams that have lasted all day.
The trick, commuters often use, to try and leave early to their destination, is also not working as there are traffic jams that begin in the afternoon itself. The stretch from Verna to Cortalim to Agassaim via the Zuari Bridge is terrible and a nightmare for commuters who are new to this route. The tourists in particular, both the domestic and foreign are disappointed and discouraged by this experience and think twice about visiting again. Some of them cannot be blamed given that they have been forced to miss their flight/train/bus due to these major traffic delays. Locals are also of the opinion that errant commuters also need to share the blame given their tendency to jump the lane and break the lines, whilst trying to overtake and by doing so they block the traffic routes on both sides. At the end of the day, when is stuck for hours behind the wheel, questions are raised if all of this could have been planned much better given that the authorities knew full well about the amount of traffic expected during the peak holiday season. Given their failure at handling traffic on a normal working day, it is no surprise to witness the kind of traffic this Friday itself where there was a major block that lasted for ten hours.
We are doing our best despite the odds: Traffic police
Usually the ones to be on the receiving end of blame and criticism, traffic police point out that these are not ordinary circumstances and speak about how they are regulating traffic and key spots along the busy stretches. They also point out that there is traffic coming from a lot of directions such as Margao/Vasco/ Loutolim and Panjim as well as the many mini intersections on the route and the mini diversions to accommodate the construction work.
Some of the traffic police speaking on the condition of anonymity added that over the last few days, there is traffic congestion as early as 1 pm due to the increase in the number of vehicles on the road. “The traffic moves slowly when there is such congestion. We try and regulate the traffic movement to ensure it moves smoothly but due to accidents, collisions, vehicle breakdowns, there are delays on the way. We try and see that it clears up soon and traffic resumes,” he added.
Traffic police also put onus on the number of events happening at this time of the year which is not easy to manage.
“Ever year on an average, 1 lakh automobiles are added to the existing number of vehicles plying on these routes. During weekends and especially at the year-end, the number of tourists’ increases by a big number, which increases the pressure of traffic on the narrow roads,” said DySp Traffic Dharmesh Angle.
He however reiterated that the traffic police are focusing on the smooth flow of traffic taking into consideration the expected traffic on New Year’s Eve. “We expect the traffic to be more this year due to the year-end festivities and celebrations,” he added, while noting the circumstances such as the size of the road stretches due to the ongoing bride construction work.
He also pointed out that the department has deployed more police staff. He listed the number of traffic police of different ranks and home-guards who will be placed on various strategic spots along the route to manage the heavy traffic movement and reduce the traffic congestion.
“We also have a towing vehicle stationed near Zuari Bridge in case of any vehicle breakdown or accidents,” he added, while speaking about they how quickly respond to any such incident.
He further urged citizens to drive safely, follow traffic rules and to cooperate with the traffic police to avoid hours of traffic congestion on roads.
Traffic police added that they will be working in shifts throughout the day and night to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
They also cautioned those who are not following the rules, as their actions eventually add to the problems at hand.
“Many times, in a bid to avoid the traffic queue or even us traffic police, commuters try to overtake from the wrong side or jump the lane. Sometimes they are just impatient. This causes problems and delays the traffic. In our opinion, if citizens drive responsibly and cooperate with us by following traffic rules, there won’t be as many problems on the road and there will smoother flow of traffic from the Verna to Agassaim stretch in particular, added the police official.