By Rasseerat Kohli
Thousands of vehicles, including ambulances entering Chandigarh from Panchkula, were caught in a massive jam at Madhya Marg forcing senior officers, including SSP (Traffic) Shashank Anand, to regulate traffic at Kalagram light point on Monday. The situation was finally brought under control around 1 pm.
Buses, ambulances, private vehicles were all caught in the jam along the two-kilometre stretch between Housing Board light point and Transport light point-26 which began around 8.30 am and continued for nearly four-and-a-half hours. The jam reached a climax when a Himachal Roadways bus driver could not start the engine as he had turned it off after being stuck in the chaos near Kalagram light point.
SSP (Traffic) Shashank Anand said, “There are three reasons behind the chaos. First during rains, people prefer four-wheelers instead of two-wheelers. Second, due to construction work of the railway underbridge (RUB), the Manimajra railway crossing is lying closed for the past few days. Third during peak hours, the volume of traffic remains high from the side of Chandigarh’s entry point.”
The SSP maintained, “I was on routine patrol when I got the message from the traffic control room about the heavy jam at the Kalagram light point. I found two ambulances were stuck. I preferred to clear the way for ambulances personally.” He said he would take up the matter of completing construction of the RUB at the Manimajra railway crossing with the concerned departments.
Another police officer at Railway light point said, “We prefer to control traffic manually in peak hours. But today, the situation was so bad that we had to switch off the traffic lights for about five hours and controlled it manually between 8.30 am and 12.15 pm. The reason behind it was to provide maximum opportunity to vehicles, entering Chandigarh from the side of Panchkula.”
Incidentally, 8.30 am to 11.30 am, 1 pm to 3 pm and 4.45 pm to 8 pm are considered peak hours. Traffic police, however, preferred to regulate the traffic manually only in the morning and evening hours. Office goers, students, employees and professionals were stuck in jams for about 30-35 minutes on an average if not more.
Traffic Constable Kuldeep Singh said, “Traffic is moderated manually everyday in the morning and evening. But today the situation was worst. The ongoing construction work of RUB at the Manimajra railway crossing also attributed to the chaos. Usually, traffic chaos increases whenever it rains.”
Construction work at the railway crossing, meanwhile, was put on hold on Monday as workers were absent due to the downpour. Chandigarh traffic police, though, have issued an advisory, asking people, going to Panchkula from Chandigarh, to take alternate routes.