The Edappally Junction became a cobweb of people and vehicles on Sunday evening, as people from the city and faraway places thronged the Lulu mall premises on the day of its inauguration .
The junction often came to a standstill, leaving serpentine queues of vehicles in four directions.
Even pedestrians found it tough to inch their way forward through the huge crowd here. For a moment, the unprecedented turnout of people forced the mall’s security staff to close the gates. Many tried to scale the compound walls.
The teeming crowd spilled over into the highway, holding up traffic in the Palarivattom-Kalamassery stretch. The traffic police had a tough time as they attempted to create space for at least one row of vehicles. Even this seemed tough as the two lanes on the northern side of NH 47 and the median was packed with people.
All this while, single-lane traffic proceeded at a snail’s pace along the highway’s southern side.
Still, the queue of vehicles extended as far as the Palarivattom Bypass Junction, located three km away. Even the service roads and side roads were packed with vehicles, choking them.
The mall’s location – at the meeting point of NH 47 and NH 17, compounded matters as traffic along both the highways halted for a few hours.
Fed up with the snarls, the humid atmosphere, toxic automobile exhaust and the sound of engines, many motorists switched off the engines. Vivekananadan, a two-wheeler rider said that he saw a few vehicle owners make frantic attempts to move their vehicles to a side as they ran out of fuel after being caught in the snarl.
Vehicles parked indiscriminately on the road in front of another mall in the vicinity made matters worse. This has given rise to the widespread demand that mall owners make their own arrangements for parking vehicles of customers.
Many people caught in the traffic rued about why government agencies – especially the NHAI and Kochi Corporation did nothing to widen Edapally Junction, in anticipation of the mall’s opening. They also demanded that the traffic police ban parking all along the highway and the NH bypass.