Toll collectors unprepared to handle the Sankranti rush

People in thousands travelling by cars, APSRTC and private buses and other means of transport from Hyderabad to Vijayawada and beyond for the Sankranti festivities had harrowing experience due to traffic jam near the toll gate near Choutuppal on Saturday.

People who set out for Nalgonda, Miryalaguda, Suryapet, Vijayawada and beyond were caught in traffic jams near the toll gate at Panthangi near Choutuppal. Union Minister of State for Social Justice Balram Naik was among those stranded on the National Highway 65. The ordeal lasted for over three hours from 7 a.m. There was a long queue of 3 km to 4 km with vehicles waiting at the toll gate for passage. Several persons waiting in vehicles said the toll gate staff were clearly inadequate and unprepared for handling such large number of vehicles.

The delay in clearing the vehicles after the collection of the toll resulted in the traffic jam. Several car-owners waiting in traffic said they were forced to take their own vehicles because of non-availability of train reservations and steep increase in the fare charged both by the APSRTC and the private transporters.

Choutuppal CI K. Jagannadha Reddy, who supervised the traffic clearance along with SI Narasimha and staff said residents of Hyderabad bound for Vijayawada and other Andhra areas had started their journey between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and reached in large numbers around 8.30 a.m. This had resulted in peak hour traffic getting stalled.

Extra counters

He told The Hindu that the toll gate agency had operated 16 counters, eight in two directions. To cope with the heavy traffic three counters were added.

When contacted, National Highways Authority of India official Venkat Reddy said that he was not aware of any traffic jam on the stretch nor he got any reports.