People in North Chennai were put to hardship, following a flash strike by more than 300 drivers and cleaners on Wednesday evening protesting against the inordinate delay in letting export containers into the Chennai Port Trust.

According to sources, trouble began at the Chennai Port Trust since Tuesday night as Customs officials took nearly 10-12 minutes to clear a container against three minutes earlier. The slowdown was due to the cautious approach adopted by a Customs officer on Tuesday night. Till late evening, there was hardly any progress and trucks were seen lined up till Ernavoor.

Some of the agitating lorry owners said the issue could be solved once for all by erecting more gates on the lines of tollgates at zero gate and deputing more officials to check the containers.

Chennai Customs Commissioner (Imports) C. Rajan said: “There was a delay in clearing the consignment on Tuesday night due to an over-cautious officer. We have posted two Preventive Officers at the gate and we expect the issue will be cleared by tomorrow morning.”

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-North) S. Manoharan said on an average 1,000 container lorries and about 700 trucks entered the Port premises every day. The vehicles often piled up along the Ennore Express Highway obstructing free flow of traffic.

“Since only one gate handles the entry of vehicles, there is delay resulting in the congestion. We have suggested that more gates be opened coupled with deployment of additional manpower from agencies such as Customs, Central Industrial Security Force and Chennai Port,” he said.