L.Srikrishna and Shastry V. Mallady

Road widening works add to woes on Chennai highway

MADURAI: If you are expecting any of your family members from Chennai by bus on the morning of Deepavali, they may join only around lunch time and not possibly at the usual 7 a.m. or so.

For the past four days, most of the buses from Koyambedu in Chennai have been arriving in the city at least five hours behind the scheduled time owing to various factors, particularly because of roads damaged in the weeklong heavy rains and resultant traffic snarls due to heavy traffic on the alreadybusy highways.

On Sunday, the buses from Chennai that were supposed to come at 7 a.m. reached after noon and even beyond. Enquiries at various omni bus operators and the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) indicated that the difficulty for passengers would last for a few more days.

“The demand is more from Chennai to Madurai because people from southern districts who are working in the capital city have been leaving home for celebrating Deepavali at their native places. Rains, bad roads, railway crossing at Villupuram and traffic jam near Ulundurpet are the main causes for delay,” says K. Abdul Wahab, an operator.

Railway gates

Bus drivers are having a tough time. In the last two days, it has taken about three hours for them to cross Chennai city itself. Closing of railway gates have become frequent owing to more number of special trains running on the Nagercoil-Chennai sector to meet the Deepavali rush.

“There are nearly 40 special trains. Apart from that, the road traffic also had gone up since more vehicles such as vans are also carrying passengers,” says Mr. Wahab.

Like special trains, there are now special buses also from private operators. The RTO officials have been conducting raids on the route to check whether vehicles are having permits.

A few TNSTC bus drivers and conductors plying on Madurai-Salem, Madurai-Tirunelveli and Madurai-Chennai attributed the delay to bad roads, heavy vehicular movement at night and road widening works.

On many stretches between Madurai and Karur and Madurai and Tiruchi, road widening works resulted in slow movement of heavy vehicles.

Normally, it takes less than five-and-a-half hours to reach Salem from Madurai, but now it is delayed by 45 minutes and more, some drivers point out.