Against the backdrop of a jet-black sea and under the canopy of brilliant yellow lights are men handing out tickets and “change” to those accessing the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
The traffic during late-night hours is minimum but in contrast the toll plaza workers are on maximum alert. On days when they have night duty, they try to rest as much as they can because in their view it requires more focus.
A toll plaza worker, who has been working for two years and didn’t wish to be named, said, “Late in the night, people are tired and want to reach home as soon as possible. They are easily irritated and so we have to be very quick with what we do.”
It is his duty to keep the traffic moving smoothly. He considers it an art that he developed over time.
Small things like counting out the change to the customer saves time in his opinion, lest the customer take his own sweet time doing so. To work in a place where there is no room to move around can be a little challenging and tough. To be alert at all times can be mentally taxing.
But there are plenty of perks as well. He immensely enjoys the little breaks he takes by the sea side. Also, he has the authority to walk on the bridge, stop and admire the view occasionally unlike the common masses. Once in a while, they get a glimpse of a celebrity which adds a little zing to their work.
There is a lot more to their job than collecting toll. During the night, many youngsters love speeding on the bridge.
Plaza workers are posted at different locations in case of an emergency and for safety purposes. The toll plaza workers also monitor the CCTV footage, looking not only for cars that are speeding but also ones that are slowing down.
“Very often we encounter people who stop the car and take photos. There are no lanes for that so these people pose a potential safety threat and they don’t even realise that,” said a worker.
On rare occasions, the situation turns grave. “Just this Tuesday (October 11), a fellow in a Range Rover stopped his car on the bridge and was attempting to jump off. Two people from our team quickly reached the site and tried to engage him in a conversation while someone contacted the police. Thankfully, they were able to prevent it,” he adds.
Confrontations with delicate situations like these is not a part of many toll plaza workers’ job, but the Bandra-Worli Sea Link toll booth workers are well aware of the risks that lurk in the night shift and they also know the protocols that need to be followed. “This bridge is Mumbai ki shaan and it’s our duty to look after it,” he says.