Heavy vehicles run amok in areas near industrial belts and ports

These vehicle ply on Ennore Expressway, Manali Oil Refinery Road, Thiruvottiyur- Ponneri-Panchetti Road towards Chennai, Kattupalli and Kamarajar Ports. Residents of Manali, Madhavaram, Ponneri, Ernavur, Ennore, and Thiruvottiyur are upset at the condition of roads

April 02, 2024 10:27 pm | Updated April 03, 2024 02:59 pm IST

A menace on the road: Container lorries waiting on Ennore Expressway. Factories do not allow vehicles inside and make them wait on the roadside for at least two hours for issuing passes. They will have to wait for more hours on the roadside if it is Saturday or Sunday.

A menace on the road: Container lorries waiting on Ennore Expressway. Factories do not allow vehicles inside and make them wait on the roadside for at least two hours for issuing passes. They will have to wait for more hours on the roadside if it is Saturday or Sunday. | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Sometime ago, a 51-year-old man and his 45-year-old sister were returning on a bike to Washermanpet from a temple at Andarkuppam, when a container truck coming in the opposite direction ran amok and hit a stationary truck to avoid ramming a bus at MFL roundabout near Manali. In the impact, the container from the truck fell on Srinivasan and Nivetha and crushed them. A police officer says the container was removed with the help of an earthmover and then the bodies were recovered.

Last January, A. Annamalai, 53, of Thiruvottiyur was crushed to death after a container truck rammed him while it was turning left. The driver was arrested for causing the death due to negligence. The areas near the industrial hubs and ports in north Chennai are prone to accidents and traffic jams. They have become dangerous for motorists. The causes of accidents include rash driving by truck drivers; lack of adequate lighting; and chaotic traffic on the roads leading to the Chennai Port, the Kattupalli Port, and the Kamarajar Port at Ennore. Heavy vehicles, such as container trucks and tankers, ply on Ennore Expressway, Manali Oil Refinery Road, Thiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti (TPP) Road towards the ports. Motorists complain about poor road and traffic conditions. Residents of the adjoining Manali, Madhavaram, Ponneri, Ernavur, Ennore, and Thiruvottiyur have been upset at the condition of the roads.

‘Risky ride’

R.L. Srinivasan, from Ennore, says, “We used to witness a lot of accidents in which victims were knocked down by mostly heavy vehicles. A lot of heavy vehicles are moving on the carriageway. Sometimes, the drivers of the trailers compete with each other and over-speed. They choke the roads without any space for others. Riding on bikes on these roads is too risky.”

“Often motorists fall from their vehicles after they skid on sand patches on the road or in a muddy area. Mostly, two-wheeler riders get killed in accidents after hitting trailers or trailers hitting them. Since heavy vehicles carry loads, the roads quickly get damaged. There is delay in filling the potholes. Roads are not properly maintained. As a result, dust falls on the face of motorists,” says Mahalingam of Manali.

Over 10,000 public vehicles also use these roads regularly. The three ports are the hub of import and export. There are also power plants, refineries, cement factories, and gas-filling plants in the region, besides 45 container freight stations. A container freight station is a warehouse that deals with goods that are ready to be transported. Empty container yards, godowns of stockists, oil and chemical godowns, and other commercial establishments are located here. For loading and unloading of goods, a lot of commercial vehicles ply on Thiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti Road and other roads. The container truck traffic depends upon the berthing of ships at the ports.

Inadequate road space

The road space is inadequate to handle such a large number of vehicles. It requires a change in road set-up and segregation of road space, says a retired traffic police officer. “The width of the roads is not adequate for so many heavy vehicles to move at a time along with other vehicles. The roads should be widened. At the same time, lane segregation needs to be done. It will be very tough to remove vehicles which carry more than 50 tonnes or 60 tonnes if they break down or meet with an accident,” he says.

Residents also complain that there is inadequate illumination or no proper signage on Ponneri High Road, from the Kondakarai junction to Vallur. “The drivers of trucks are careless. They are least bothered about the other vehicles. Some of the drivers do not even bother to look at the side mirror while turning their vehicles. Because they drive vehicles 40-60 feet in length, they are unable to see from their cabin what is going on in the rear. That is why, in many accidents, two-wheeler riders are caught under the rear wheels of the vehicles. Some containers do not have side mirrors at all. Many do not have helpers either since the salary is meagre,” says a police officer on beat.

The truck drivers are often working without adequate rest. They compete with each other in getting more loads, thus choking the carriageway without bothering about other road-users. Police officers say most accidents occur owing to rash and negligent driving by those from other States.

A. Ganesh Bangera, State general secretary, Tamil Nadu Mini Lorry Owners’ and Suppliers’ Association, says, “Day by day, the number of industries increases in these areas. The number of vehicles has also increased, but not the road width. Moreover, the authorities have not provided space for parking trucks or for toilets. So the drivers park on the roadside. Moreover, these factories do not allow our vehicles inside and make them wait on the roadside for at least two hours for issuing passes. They will have to wait on the roadside for more hours if it is Saturday or Sunday. We do not have experienced drivers. So the beginners drive the heavy vehicles and accidents occur.”

A. Jayalakshmi, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic, Avadi City Police, says, “We are exploring ways to give dedicated lines for heavy and light vehicles. In the city, they are not allowing heavy vehicles in the daytime. In the Avadi Commissionerate, we have two ports: the Kattupalli Port and the Kamarajar Port. So we cannot ask them to ply at night. So, we allow heavy vehicles not only on Thiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti Road and Manali Oil Refinery Road but also on Grand Northern Trunk Road.”

Separate lanes

“On a trial basis, we have created separate lanes for heavy vehicles on Thiruvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti Road, Manali Oil Refinery Road, and Ennore Expressway. The service-roads have been allotted for container movement so that residents of Manali New Town, Vichur, and Kondakarai can use the roads without any hassle,” says Ms. Jayalakshmi. The police have asked the port authorities to accommodate heavy vehicles on their premises. The Kattupalli Port has agreed to accommodate 100 vehicles. A separate parking lot will be opened shortly at the Ennore port, the police officer says.

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