Thanks to a traffic diversion put in place to facilitate the construction of a flyover between Old Jail Road and Basin Bridge, the entry of vehicles has been restricted for nearly a year

For several months now, ambulances transporting critically ill people, and patients attempting to make their way to Government Stanley Hospital, have had to take a 3-km detour at Mint to reach the hospital, located on Old Jail Road.

Thanks to a traffic diversion put in place to facilitate the construction of a flyover between Old Jail Road and Basin Bridge, the entry of vehicles has been restricted for nearly a year.

In 2010, the Chennai Corporation started work on the flyover, and Old Jail Road was made a one-way, with an entry from the roundabout near Bharathi Women’s College. Vehicles plying from Basin Bridge towards Old Jail Road were diverted.

As a result, ambulances and patients travelling in buses, share autos and other vehicles take a detour and go via Parthasarathy Bridge, Dr. Vijayaragavalu Road, T.H. Road, Cemetery Road, M.S. Koil Street and Royapuram New Bridge to reach the hospital.

Those worst affected are patients brought in ambulances. “It used to take only five minutes to reach the hospital from the Mint roundabout. But now we have to take a long detour and this delays us by at least 25 minutes,” said an official of a 108 ambulance.

Stanley hospital is the largest government-run tertiary care facility in north Chennai and caters to around 8,000 outpatients a day, as well as patients from northern districts including Tiruvallur.

The official said ambulances transported patients from Tiruvallur to Chennai through Grand Northern Trunk Road. “There are seven ambulances on this stretch which includes Madhavaram, Cholavaram, Minjur, Ponneri, Kavarapettai and Gummidipoondi. At least 75 per cent of cases brought in these ambulances are taken to Stanley hospital, as it is the nearest facility. Patients from Tondiarpet and surrounding areas are also admitted here. This traffic diversion is causing a lot of difficulties for patients,” he said. Police personnel at the hospital said that ambulances were only permitted on the restricted stretch at night.

Several residents of north Chennai rely on share autos, and they now have to pay more to reach the hospital. “The autos take two routes from Basin Bridge – either through Kondithope and Seven Wells or via Cemetery Road and Royapuram to reach the hospital. They charge Rs. 15 to Rs. 20 for the longer route,” said a patient’s attendant.

Ravi, another patient’s attendant, said this posed a risk for critically ill patients. Abdul Haleem, a resident of Pensioners Lane, Mint said the Corporation should expedite the construction work.

Chennai Corporation officials said the flyover would be completed by August.