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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Mumbai Maldives Presidents visit slows traffic on Western Express Highway

Mumbai: Maldives President's visit slows traffic on Western Express Highway

Updated on: 05 August,2022 11:11 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shirish Vaktania |

On day when rain gave some brief respite, Maldives president’s visit to Film City for silly photo op maroons thousands on WEH

Mumbai: Maldives President's visit slows traffic on Western Express Highway

Traffic at standstill on WEH, opp Hub Mall in Goregaon

First there were potholes. Now, it’s a VVIP for whom a major portion of the Western Express Highway (WEH) was blocked on Thursday, inviting the ire of Mumbaikars who were stuck in long traffic jams for nearly three hours. The police had barricaded the road from Bandra to Goregaon, so that Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih could get a few photos clicked at the Film City in Goregaon East. Angry commuters asked why the common public was inconvenienced during peak hours because of a VVIP.

Also read: Mumbai Police chief rolls back ‘FIR for traffic violation policy'

Thousands of Mumbaikars faced traffic snarls on Wednesday, too, as Maldives President Solih arrived in Mumbai for a two-day visit. He met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis was also present. On Thursday, he visited the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai and then went to Film City in Goregaon, for which the police blocked the roads from Bandra to Goregaon from 3 pm to 8 pm. At Film City, Solih visited Bollywood-theme park where he clicked photographs and spoke to people about Bollywood. From there, he left for the airport.

Stuck for hours

Commuters told mid-day that police barricaded the WEH in Dindoshi, which increased their travel duration to over 2 hours. Many school buses were also stuck on the highway. Those who could take a diversion, travelled via SV road and link road, which also had more than usual traffic movement.

Heavy traffic jam on the Western Express Highway, Goregaon, on Thursday. Pic/Sameer Markande
Heavy traffic jam on the Western Express Highway, Goregaon, on Thursday. Pic/Sameer Markande

Kailas Mangaonkar, 34, a resident of Vasai, told mid-day, “I commute between Vasai and Bandra via road, and usually it takes me about an hour, but today, I reached Vasai in three hours. Police were deployed on the road, and we didn’t even know what was happening. The public should have been informed in advance about the VVIP movement. We would have planned our journey accordingly. However, I don’t understand the need of blocking roads for VVIP movement during peak hours, that too in a city like Mumbai.” Both the Mumbai traffic police and city police on Wednesday posted on social media an advisory about the VVIP movement on Thursday, but it most certainly did not reach everyone.

Ekta Jain, an actor, said, “On a normal day, it takes me about 45 minutes to travel to Andheri West from Film City in Goregaon East. However, on Thursday evening, I was stuck for over 45 minutes on a short Film City road alone. It took me over an hour to reach the WEH in Goregaon. The VVIP movements should not affect the public. Traffic police should send alert text messages to citizens, so no one misses on the updates.”

Pooja Jadhav, 26, a resident of Vile Parle, leaves her office at Borivli at 5 in the evening and reaches home in an hour. “Today, however, it’s 6.30 pm and I am still at Kandivli. Officers deployed on the WEH told me that it was due to VVIP movement. VVIP movement should not be allowed during peak hours. It badly affects the common people.”

Deepak Ruia, a film producer, said he commutes to work at Film City from Malad in about 15-20 minutes daily. “On Thursday, I was stuck in a jam in Goregaon for more than an hour. The police barricaded the road. It’s not right that so many people were stuck in traffic snarls due to the VVIP’s movement. The VVIP movement should not affect the public.”

‘Is this democracy?’

Dipesh Tank, a resident of Malad said, “It was so frustrating that traffic was stalled by placing barricades just near Pathanwadi on the WEH, on the roads towards Oberoi mall in Goregaon. It took me over 45 minutes to reach Malad from Jogeshwari around 4 pm.”

“For years, we used to get stuck in jams because of Metro works, then because of the potholes and now, VVIP movement. Why do they require so many hours to cross a few km of the road that is cleared for them? Is this democracy? Why do they waste our money, time and fuel? I was stuck for more than an hour around noon in just Jogeshwari,” said Neilesh Jadhav who lives in Dahisar. “We have no option, but to block the roads to secure VVIPs movements. Public notices were already issued the day before,” said a senior traffic cop.

The meter of an auto one Harnit Oberoi took ran over Rs 200 in 1.02 km, thanks to the wait time due to jam. Pic/Twitter@HarnitOberoi
The meter of an auto one Harnit Oberoi took ran over Rs 200 in 1.02 km, thanks to the wait time due to jam. Pic/Twitter@HarnitOberoi

What’s the VVIP protocol?

“Security is of utmost importance during any VVIP’s movement in India,” a senior police officer told mid-day. “When the president or PM of any country visits Mumbai or any city in India, they have fixed pre-scheduled events. For their entire journey, we have to keep the roads they are scheduled to take empty, from start to end. No others vehicles are allowed. Not even hawkers or pedestrians are allowed to use such roads. The violations are punishable under the IPC.”

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