Bumper-to-bumper traffic caused chaos for motorists along the 5-km stretch from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan.
Vehicles were lined up in a 2-km snarl, as the cars struggled to move ahead. The road along the rally route where over 60,000-odd MNS supporters walked was shut for motorists, and traffic cops at several areas enforced temporary diversions. The traffic moved at snail’s pace right up to Marine Lines until supporters crossed the foot over bride to get to the eastern side of Marine Lines station. Here things turned for the worse for motorists.
Thousands of supporters began crossing roads, banging on cars and running in between two vehicles. Add to that when Raj Thackeray got down from his SUV at Girgaum at 2 pm, hundreds of supporters thronged his vehicle to get a glimpse of him.
During this period, motorists were gridlocked for over 30 minutes, and the situation only improved after the MNS chief sat inside his vehicle. Traffic then slowly began moving towards Churchgate, while MNS supporters walked on Maharshi Karve Marg and proceeded towards Azad Maidan via Metro Cinema junction.
Even the Metro junction stretch was partially shut for vehicular traffic, when people walked along the road.
“We began temporary diversions for motorists from 1 pm onwards,” said SR Nilewad, DCP (City), Traffic police. The diversions were removed only in the evening when the rally ended.
Even taxis bore the brunt of the march. Of the total 42,000 taxis plying in the city, 70 per cent run in the south and central Mumbai. “Nearly 50 per cent of those running in the island city stayed off the road,” said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
Apart from this BEST buses were also diverted. “The buses were diverted mainly near Girgaum Chowpatty, Kalbadevi and those going towards the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika buiding in CST,” said a BEST spokesperson.
Local trains that are the lifeline of the city weren’t affected much. The train services on both Central and Western Railways were running normally. “We kept a special squad at Churchgate station for any emergency situation,” said R Rupanwar, senior divisional security commissioner, Mumbai division, WR. “We monitored the crowd personally, as well as through the CCTV. There was no problem whatsoever,” said Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, Mumbai division, Central Railway.