For almost a week now, driving through Pondy Bazaar and Usman Road in T.Nagar has been anything but a pleasant experience for motorists. If Sunday was a day of severe traffic snarls in the area, Monday was even worse as office-goers got trapped among the eager Deepavali shoppers.
Those who expected the crowd to water down on a busy weekday found much to their dismay that shoppers were swarming the area right since morning.
The crowded G.N. Chetty Road provided the first hint of the traffic snarls ahead at Pondy Bazaar and Usman Road. A few shoppers used the by-lanes off G.N.Chetty Road to park their vehicles and preferred to walk down till Usman Road.
On Sunday, the signs of chaos were visible right from the morning. “We decided to come early to escape the crowd. But the shops were swarming with people as early as 9 a.m. We had to wait for almost half an hour to get our stuff packed and another 15 minutes to get them billed,” said R.Vembuleeswaran from Mogappair.
Waste management in the busy shopping areas also came under strain. Plastic litters in heaps welcomed visitors before every shop on Usman Road. Peanuts and cut-fruit sellers had positioned themselves right outside the popular showrooms, unperturbed by the constant honking of the vehicles behind them. From unassuming juice shops to swanky restaurants, every eatery in the shopping hub was bursting at its seams.
With rain playing spoilsport on Saturday, the sunny afternoons on Sunday and Monday seemed the ideal time for many families to complete Deepavali purchases. Scores of autorickshaws queued up before the shops. But autorickshaws from Pondy Bazaar and G.N.Chetty Road were not so lucky. Many drivers complained that they faced a ‘savari' crunch, as they were not allowed to ply through Usman Road.
“It has been two weeks since our entry from Panagal Park to West Mambalam has been blocked. Tata Magic tourist taxis, however, are allowed to ply there,” said G. Kumar, an autorickshaw driver.
Entries into streets, including Motilal Street, Mahalakshmi Street and Vigneshwaran Street have also been blocked, said Selva Kumar, an autorickshaw driver who says this has necessitated long detours. “It is more expensive for us to ply to Ashok Nagar and K.K. Nagar from T.Nagar. Customers do not understand this and haggle for lesser fares,” he added.
To make the most out of festive season, many autorickshaws from Pondy Bazaar and G.N.Chetty Road travel through Saidapet and Ashok Nagar to gain entry into West Mambalam and Usman Road. “This being the last weekend before the festival, there was a major rush on Sunday. It was almost 20 per cent more than we witnessed last year,” said Seshadri, manager at Rasi Silks. Many shops this year have improved waiting rooms for their outstation customers.