Mumbai: Is BKC connector only for the rich, asks Chembur resident

Updated: Nov 11, 2019, 08:09 IST | Team mid-day | Mumbai

Outrage among bikers and auto drivers as long-delayed link from Chunabhatti to Bandra East is opened to only a section of motorists

A traffic cop explains the rules for the new BKC-Chunabhatti flyover to an irate biker on Sunday. Pics/ Nimesh Dave
A traffic cop explains the rules for the new BKC-Chunabhatti flyover to an irate biker on Sunday. Pics/ Nimesh Dave

The long-delayed and much-awaited BKC Connector to Chunabhatti opened on Sunday but to the ire and outrage of bikers and auto drivers. Probably the two most prominent modes of transport in the city after local trains, two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws have been banned from using the public road. Also, while buses are allowed, trucks and trailers have been banned from the bridge.

A sign at the bottom of the connector stated that trucks, trailers, two- and three-wheelers are not allowed on the connector. However, buses have been allowed.

The BKC Connector, which starts from G-Block of Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), crosses the Mithi River, LBS Marg, Central Railway tracks and VN Mankikar Road leading to Chunabhatti railway station. It then extends and crosses the Harbour Railway tracks, passes through the Somaiya Trust Ground and joins the Eastern Express Highway. The estimated cost of the project was Rs 156 crore and was later escalated to over Rs 200 crore.

Corporator Kaptan Malik seen with a party worker near the BKC–Chunabhatti flyover, demanded that two-wheelers be allowedCorporator Kaptan Malik seen with a party worker near the BKC–Chunabhatti flyover, demanded that two-wheelers be allowed

"I understand that bikers often do not follow lane discipline, but why no auto-rickshaws? They are stable vehicles and authorities should consider letting them ply. It will take much of the load off Dharavi junction and the LBS Road," AV Shenoy, transport expert and activist and member of Mumbai Mobility Forum, said.

Traffic police chief said that the traffic pattern would be studied first, before a rethink on the banTraffic police chief said that the traffic pattern would be studied first, before a rethink on the ban 

Mumbai Automen's Union president Shashank Sharad Rao also said that it was unfair to keep autos off the bridge. "This is an injustice to all the office-goers who use auto-rickshaws," he told mid-day.

Local NCP corporator Kaptan Malik held a bike-rally on the BKC connector on Sunday evening after it was opened for public use. "The government delayed its inauguration as there was 'no one to inaugurate'. And the chief minister decided to tweet about the opening on Sunday, instead of an official announcement. The bike rally was in protest to the government's behaviour and the banning of two-wheelers," said Malik. "Once a government is formed, we will take our demands to the concerned minister."

AsifAsif Shaikh, Lognadan Thevar and Irfan Machiwala

Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar confirmed the prohibition and added that MMRDA was only following police's directives. "We are just following the directives of the Mumbai Traffic Police, who advised us on traffic movement," he said.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Madhukar Pandey said allowing two- and three-wheelers along with cars could be dangerous and that the bridge had to be assessed first. "We are trying to enforce the policy adopted for the Eastern Freeway. As it is an elevated road, allowing movement of these vehicles could prove dangerous. We will study the traffic movement. Once we have a pattern in place, we will take a call on two- and three-wheelers. As of now, it is a strict no."

Madhukar PandeyMadhukar Pandey joint commissioner of police (traffic)

Bikers and auto-rickshaw drivers reacted with anger. Irfan Machiwala, a resident of Mahim, said, "Allowing bikers will reduce congestion. Alternative roads see heavy traffic. The length of this flyover is also short, just 1.6km. How is it a concern that two-wheelers will cause accidents?"

Mangesh Kakade, a resident of Chembur, said, "Have they built the connector only for the rich who have cars? What is the facility for the 'aam aadmi'? It is agreed that there are some two-wheeler drivers who do not adhere to lane discipline. But because of some, should everyone suffer? Why not take strict action against offenders?"

Dilip Kawathkar, MMRDA spokespersonDilip Kawathkar, MMRDA spokesperson

Lognandan Tevar, a resident of Chunabhatti, said, "Why are those who do not own four-wheelers being treated in an unfair manner? We waited all this time for the connector, and now we are banned because we ride two-wheelers."

Asif Shaikh, a resident of Kurla, said, "Don't two-wheeler riders deserve convenient travel? This is bizarre. There can be stringent supervision of rash riders."

Auto-rickshaw driver Irfan, with whom mid-day spoke near the connector on Sunday said it can also save fuel. "We lose unnecessary gas/fuel in traffic jams at Dharavi T-junction, LBS Road and near SCLR. Users of auto-rickshaws have to pay high fares. The connector would have provided much-needed convenience."

Mangesh Kakade, Chembur residentMangesh Kakade, Chembur resident

Another auto-rickshaw driver at BKC, Rashid Sayed said that this was 'zulm' on auto-rickshaws. "We have permits and badges and yet we get banned."

The BEST, on the other hand, announced on Sunday that it will introduce buses on the connector in the next few days. "We will definitely run buses. We will survey the routes along the way which could be diverted or introduce new ones," a BEST spokesperson said.

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