Mumbai: Expressway turns into parking lot, as year-end rush leads to endless traffic jam
People heading out of cities for the long weekend and New Year's Eve, coupled with fog and poor light, keep authorities manning traffic on their toes
Festive cheer of Christmas and approaching New Year's Eve, besides fog and poor light, haven't given the highway police much to celebrate. They've been on their toes for the last 48 hours, working to streamline the rush of vehicles on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway - 2.48 lakh vehicles over the two days, as opposed to the usual 60,000 to 70,000.
Vehicles coming from Mumbai and taking the Pune lane, on their way to Goa, Konkan, Lonavala and Khandala had the most trouble, progressing at the slowest pace. The chaos was so pronounced that three ambulances got stuck in the heavy jams on the route. The highway police along with the delta force and Khopoli-based Apaghatgrashta Madati Sati group have been on the troubled spots.
Mumbaikar Somnath Jagtap, en route to Lonavala, said, "We have been stuck for the last two hours. We have paid the toll, but staffers don't have any facility to provide us with refreshments, or at least water. They have just been posted to make money."
Superintendent of the highway police of Pune Amol Tambe said, "It's been a challenging 48 hours; our teams from Thane as well as Pune worked hard to normalise the traffic flow. We had to deal with several accidents, and get a container in the Pune lane removed. Though the flow on Amrutanjan bridge and ahead is normal, the backlog is unending.
"We are deploying our Urse team in the ghats till Monday afternoon, as we observed that many small vehicles have been experiencing overheating, clutch plate failure or breakdown on that stretch, adding to the jam." The Khopoli group has come to the rescue of such people, arranging for cranes to tow their vehicles.
The situation on the Mumbai-Goa Highway is no better - vehicles have stopped near Pane village, affecting those headed to the Konkan the most. Traffic near Khandala Ghat is also blocked. A traffic official told mid-day, "Most passing by are SUVs carrying large families. But in several vehicles we saw only one person - the driver. Why can't solo travellers use public transport? It will make our job a tad bit easier."
Number of vehicles over the last 48 hours
Number of vehicles usually seen over this duration
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