Commuters had a difficult time as traffic was suspended for three hours along Anna Salai on Saturday to facilitate easy movement of VIPs for the opening of the new Assembly-Secretariat complex.
Vehicles, including Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses, were not allowed along the 16-km stretch of Anna Salai from the Meenambakkam airport to the new complex between 3.30 p.m. and 6.50 p.m.
The city was split into two as the traffic diversions came into effect. Vehicles were diverted through Nungambakkam High Road and Kodambakkam High Road, clogging the roads. As contingents of traffic policemen guarded entry points to Anna Salai, motorists tried making their way through dingy, back alleys.
Those who depended on MTC buses suffered the most. S. Shanthi, working in the housekeeping department of a private bank near the TVS bus stop on Anna Salai, decided to walk home. “I live on Wall Tax Road and there is no bus service now,” she said, squatting on the pavement opposite the new Secretariat complex around 6 p.m.
M. Subramanian, working in MRF factory in Arakkonam, walked from Central Station to his home in Adyar since buses were off the road.
Police prevented people who emerged from cinema houses along the stretch from crossing the road. Since the subways were also closed, they had to wait on pavements till the VIP convoys left the function venue.
K.P.L. Sowmya and P. Jenny from Sholinganallur had purchased the daily season tickets worth Rs.30 for MTC bus travel.
They were upset that they could not use the tickets fully and had to spend additionally on autorickshaw to move around in the city.
As shops and offices were closed, the footpaths made for good viewing points for enthusiastic people who sat for hours waiting to catch a glimpse of the VVIPs.
Several peanut sellers and tea vendors spread their wares on the road and did brisk business.
When the convoys began departing from the venue after the function, people tried to cut across Anna Salai, resulting in an argument between the police and the crowd.
At 6.50 p.m., the roads were filled with people rushing to catch a glimpse of the new complex.
V. Murugesan, a painter from Border Thottam, said he wanted to be part of the event. “This is history in the making.”
(With inputs from R.Sujatha, Liffy Thomas and Ajai Sreevatsan)