Narrow roads and jam-packed shops have traffic managers at their wit’s end

With Deepavali round the corner, shoppers are making a beeline for the main areas in the city — Main Guard Gate, Singarathope, Town Hall, and Thillai Nagar. Apparel outlets, jewellery shops, and dealers selling consumer durables are witnessing a surge in shopping and most city buses bound for these places are crowded all through the day. People have to meander through the thickly-crowded Singarathope and Teppakkulam areas, Big Bazaar Street, and Nethaji Subhas Chandra Bose Road. Not just leading businesses, even medium and small textile shops are packed with people as they are known to cater to all budgets. Vehicle owners too are put to hardship in the absence of adequate parking space for two- and four-wheelers. Sukumari, a housewife of Manapparai, had come to Tiruchi, along with her parents, in-laws, and two children for shopping. They started out at 3 p.m. and it was 8 p.m. when their completed their shopping and started their way back home. “The crowd was as expected. However, the festive mood and the joy of shopping with the family make us forget the ordeal,” Ms. Sukumari said.

As people from across the central region visit the city, Central and Chathiram Bus Stands have been witnessing huge crowds. Inadequate parking space is glaring, especially for cars. The parking lot at Super Bazaar in Singarathope is the only facility available. But reaching it through the narrow road was a nightmare for car owners even on an ordinary day, said M. Vinod, a driver with an industrialist.

Although the temporary parking lot at Bishop Heber HSS near Teppakulam and ‘Yanaikatti’ Maidan have brought relief to vehicle users, it highlights the need for constructing a multi-storeyed parking complex, said A.M. Emthiaz Malik, a businessman. Readymade garment shops have been forced to hire temporary sales personnel and security staff to regulate crowd and to keep the petty criminals at bay.

Surveillance cameras have become the norm in most retail outlets, said M. Tamilselvan, Tiruchi regional president, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaippu.

Hawkers and kiosks on the roadsides in the days leading up to Deepavali add to the congestion. The authorities should regulate them and allow them only in the designated zones, said A. Thomas, a consumer activist. Should an accident occur, it will be impossible for the rescue agencies to reach the narrow lanes of Singarathope, NSB Road, Big Bazaar Street, Nandikoil Street, and Teppakulam, said Sakthivel, owner of a tailoring mart.

All commercial areas had been brought under police watch in the past few days with the help of high-definition cameras, said a police officer.

The Indian Red Cross Society has set up three peripheral first aid centres to help shoppers during emergency. At least 75 members of the District Disaster Response Team (DDRT) would work in shifts at the centres. Volunteers from different hospitals and trainees of Red Cross Society would be part of the initiative, said Edmund William, chairman, DDRT.