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Chromepet residents agonise over poor safety on arterial road

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More action needed: Highways Department has filled up the potholes with concrete on GST Road near MIT Bridge at Chromepet.
More action needed: Highways Department has filled up the potholes with concrete on GST Road near MIT Bridge at Chromepet.

K. Manikandan

But Highways Department and the police seek to pass on blame

TAMBARAM: The accident in Chromepet on Thursday in which a man and his seven-year-old son were killed, has exposed the hazards posed by the combination of poor road conditions and indisciplined driving, particularly overspeeding, on the arterial stretch of the road.

In June, two software professionals were killed in a span of a week while they were crossing the road at the pedestrian crossing under the MIT Bridge. And in August, a musician and an aged woman were run over by speeding vehicles at the same spot in a span of three days.

The stretch of the Grand Southern Trunk Road near the MIT Bridge, built at a cost of over Rs. 10 crore to replace a railway level crossing, spells danger today. On Thursday, soon after the accident, workers of Pallavaram Municipality dumped construction debris and filled some potholes. Later in the day, officials of the State Highways Department began patch-working the road, using concrete to fill up potholes.

In the wake of Thursday’s accident, a section of Chromepet residents lodged a police complaint seeking action against the State Highways Department, blaming it for poor road maintenance. After accepting the complaint and giving an acknowledgement, policemen said they were not pressing any charges as the Highways Department had set right the problem. Residents charged that several attempts were made to bring all government agencies under one umbrella to initiate coordinated steps towards road safety, but there was little progress.

Traffic policemen conceded that it was becoming virtually impossible to keep overspeeding and rash driving under check, despite the installation of warning signs and erection of multiple barricades at certain spots.

Highways officials blame the police for not enforcing restrictions related to parking. The four-lane GST Road was widened to a six-lane highway with raised medians for safe driving, and it was the responsibility of the traffic police to prevent accidents, they say.

The police, however, blame the Highways Department. The Department is paying very little attention to marking out the lanes and clearing mud accumulated on the road margins, the police say, attributing this for the accidents.

Further, the local bodies did not ensure sufficient illumination on the arterial roads, police say. They add that policemen are often forced to take up certain extraneous tasks that are simply not part of their duties.

Residents point out that the stretch of the GST Road beyond Tambaram was a model one, with proper signage and clear lane markings, provision of service lanes and lay bays for government buses to pick up commuters.

Only when similar facilities are put in place between Tambaram and Kathipara Junction can the accident rate be brought down, residents of Chromepet say.

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