Chennai

It's manic Monday as Chennai chokes again

Photo: K.Pichumani

Photo: K.Pichumani  

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Residents had hoped the worst was over. However, the nearly-three hour-long downpour on Monday evening was for many the last straw. Pedestriansran for cover, traffic systems collapsed and the everyday trip back home turned into an arduous experience for thousands, especially on arterial stretches.

For commuters, the journey back home on Monday evening was fraught with frustration. As the city received a downpour that did not let up for three hours, many arterial stretches were inundated and vehicles just inched along.

With cabs and autorickshaws refusing to accept rides, many commuters were at their wits’ end trying to figure out how they could reach their destinations.

Photo: R.Ragu

There was leitmotif to reports of how residents returned home on Monday. Everyone narrated a dreary journey that seemed to take all day. Raj, who was travelling from Taramani to T. Nagar, thought his was a journey through eternity, where time stood still: it took him five hours to reach R.A. Puram.

Rathish, a businessman, spent more than five hours on the road, but had still not reached his home in Aminjikarai.

A woman employed with a private company left her office on Anna Salai around 5.30 p.m. and reached Mambalam more than three hours later. Arun took three hours to reach Velachery from Ashok Nagar. With the road and median completely submerged, every motorist travelling on the stretch seemed to be risking his life, he said.

Anna Salai was among the worst-hit roads with jams stretching on for hours — Photo: R. Ragu

Those who had private vehicles should count themelves lucky, for people waiting for buses were in a more pitiable state, some of them waiting at bus stops for as many as four hours before their route numbers arrived.

“Anna,I have been waiting for a bus for over one hour to reach my home in Korukkupet. My mother has been calling me repeatedly on my cell phone, worried over my safety,” a young woman working at a private company on Anna Salai told a reporter at the LIC bus stop.

People travelling by the MRTS managed to reach Velachery without a hitch, but their journey further, by road, to reach their homes in the southern suburbs seemed to be a never-ending ordeal.

Monday’s showers took almost all commuters by surprise.

Around 5.30 p.m., Lakshmi Sai, who was travelling on Santhome High Road, suddenly found herself in the midst of a heavy downpour that filled the stretch quickly and threatened to sweep away her car.

“There was sudden inundation on Santhome High Road, and I had sense of bobbing in the waters along with my car,” says Ms. Sai.

Police struggle

The traffic police struggled in the pouring rain to bring traffic back to normality. Some of the worst-affected stretches were: Anna Salai up to Guindy, 100-Feet Road, Nungambakkam High Road, Radhakrishnan Salai, most roads in Egmore, Poonamalee High Road and Jawaharlal Nehru Salai.

“I was on night shift. When I stepped out of my house with an umbrella, I noticed that G.N. Chetty Road was completely clogged with vehicles. I tried booking a cab, but there were no vehicles on the application. I was literally stranded,” said K. Vidyut, who works at an office on Anna Salai.

Getting autorickshaws proved to be a Herculean task. “Most of them were asking for double the normal fare. But even after I managed to get into an autorickshaw after much bargaining, I was not able to reach my destination on time as the traffic was extremely slow-moving,” said J. Hussain, who was on his way to his friend’s house in Choolaimedu through Radhakrishnan Salai.

The 108 Ambulances too were finding the going difficult as the traffic was sluggish, said officials. “Five ambulances have been added to the fleet in Chennai to help flood relief efforts. The ambulances are operating in Tambaram and Villivakkam areas,” said an official.

Police officials attributed the problem to vehicle breakdowns. “Many two wheelers and cars stopped after water entered the vehicles. Though we managed to clear the water, the automobiles affected traffic flow,” said a traffic police officer. Most traffic police personnel struggled in the rain to ensure smooth vehicle movement. “We tried to remove the stranded vehicles using our wrecker vans. But they were not able to reach the spot due to the traffic,” added an officer.

Photo:R.Ravindran

Many people left their vehicles and opted for MRTS.

“I live in Nandanam and I was stranded on Anna Salai. I took an MRTS and got down at Greenways Road station and walked home,” said J. Nikhila, a homemaker.

People shared images and videos of boat services being operated on various arterial stretches including G.N. Chetty Road.

Train services smooth

Meanwhile, train services were the only mode of transport that was not affected due to the rains.

Speaking about rumours of services being affected by the downpour, a senior railway official said: “Suburban train services on all the four routes, including Arakonnam, operated as usual but at a slow speed.”

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 8:54:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-rains-its-manic-monday-as-chennai-chokes-again/article7911330.ece

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