TAMIL NADU

Chennai's traffic is a nightmare

CHENNAI, OCT. 11. It's 9 a.m. Professor B.N. Rao is exhausted even before reaching his office in Guindy.

A 26-year-old who uses her two-wheeler to reach TIDEL Park is left seething at the traffic snarl at Madhya Kailash.

R. Krishnan, whose job entails making the rounds of the city, is at the mercy of undisciplined bus and truck drivers on the entire stretch of Inner Ring Road every day.

A worker in a Padi factory reaches his unit behind schedule almost every day, thanks to the virtual chaos between Madhavaram and Padi junctions.

This is the stuff of Chennai's nightmares. Traffic in the city is getting worse by the day.

Lakhs of Chennai-ites on their way to office, factory, college or school are left wondering as to what passes for traffic management.

The city's vehicle population is now 1.3 million plus -- and growing. To be fair, traffic managers face a hopeless situation -- no increase in road space, only more vehicles. There is hardly any new construction despite the increasing need for flyovers, overbridges, dedicated parking lots and very little extra by way of public transport.

Poor supervision

The traffic gridlock and appalling road conditions have severely affected public transport buses. Poor supervision by the Metropolitan Transport Corporation ensures that bus crews skip or cancel trips on their own or deviate from scheduled routes. Adding to driver and pedestrian woes is the indiscriminate on-street parking on the main roads.

The list of roads where traffic is paralysed is a long one. At several junctions, traffic police inspectors and sub-inspectors have to use harsh language to discipline drivers and jaywalkers.

If the situation in South Chennai is bad, it is far worse in North Chennai.

A `who-cares-attitude', particularly among policemen, is the order of the day. Be it the NSC Bose Road in George Town, Konnur High Road in Ayanavaram, MTH Road at Villivakkam, Wall Tax Road abutting the Central Railway Station, Perambur Barracks Road or the Tiruvottiyur High Road, traffic snarls are ubiquitous.

"This is the situation despite having two Deputy Commissioners of Police (Traffic), one for the South and the other for the North, compared to only one 15 years ago", says a resident of Royapuram.

He recalls how in the past a couple of superior officers did make an impact on the city through sustained surprise checks.

"That is missing now. It is now rare to see superior officers on the rounds. There is no supervision at all", the old-timer points out.

The only fallback for quick commuting is autorickshaws. But then as a group, Chennai's autorickshaw have a reputation for notoriety that precedes them. Even arterial roads are no exception.

Blatant parking

At Parry's corner, the parking of two-wheelers at a bus stand prompted the MTC authorities to request the traffic police to remove the barricades put up there to demarcate the "bus bay", lest commuters get hurt trying to board or alight from buses.

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