Chaos descended on the south-end foot overbridge to Kandivali East on Tuesday after the escalator, leading to the bridge, stopped working. To prevent congestion, the only staircase leading to the bridge was made uni-directional. Based on the direction of the traffic, the commuters were allowed to use it either for entry or exit. For commuters, this meant a walk of around 400-metres, just to exit the station.
During the morning rush hour, commuters were allowed only to climb up the narrow staircase and during the evening rush hour it was for climbing down. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) guards stood guard to guide the other commuters to the skywalk. An agitated crowd gathered around the guards, protesting against the move, thus creating a bottleneck on the skywalk.
“To reach the auto stand right next to the station, I will had to walk all the way to the end of the skywalk and then come back as they had blocked the exit from the staircase. First, they shut one skywalk and forced everyone to take one FOB. Now, they are forcing us to take the skywalk for exit. It is causing inconvenience to commuters,” said Abhishek Srivastava, a Charkop resident.’After the southern-end FOB was shut for repairs on April 12, commuters were diverted to the east-west FOB. During peak hours, when the crowd swells, commuters are being asked to take the escalator to go up the staircase to come down. However, after the escalator stopped working on Monday, commuters experienced a “stampede-like” situation.
“Escalator on the BMC skywalk, towards east-side, is maintained by BMC. Concerned BMC officials have also been requested to closely monitor its functioning and ensure that it remains operational, particularly during peak time,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relations Officer, Western Railway. “After the escalator stopped working yesterday, there was complete chaos on the staircase. It was then decided to make it one-way and only allow commuters to go up the staircase. Had it not been done, there would have been a Parel-like situation here,” said Mahindra Moriya, who works in Kandivali.
For commuters, it was a harrowing experience as they had to walk long distances only to exit the station. “Railways should have thought of other alternatives before shutting the bridge. This is unfair to the commuters, who have to go to the east as there are only two exits to the east,” said Anand Pawar, another Kandivali resident.
All preliminary works, including girder fabrication of the FOB, has been done before closing of the existing FOB. A new FOB is planned to be commissioned by July 31. Considering the heavy flow of passengers from the east-side towards this FOB, temporary access to the middle FOB towards north of the dismantled FOB has been provided by dismantling the boundary wall, leveling of approaches and suitable lighting arrangements so that commuters can approach the middle FOB from west side,” Bhakar added.