Panjim: Among the myriad number of complaints of water logging, power fluctuations and traffic jams in the city and towns, there has been one recurring complaint over the last week that has inconvenienced thousands of commuters travelling via the Margao to Panjim (and vice versa) route along the highway.
From non-functioning streetlights that pose a risk to travellers on the night to the shoddy quality of roads that are deteriorating in the rains to simply the amount of time it takes to cross the 32-odd kilometres have been agonisingly frustrating.
“It normally takes around 45 minutes to travel from Margao to Panjim. Lately it was taking about an hour and a half due to the delays. Now it takes two hours. Two hours is not a joke. There are times the car cannot move forward or back as we are stuck in these humungous queues and if we move a little, we have to stop again,” said Lester Fernandes, a marketing executive at a firm in Panjim.
“This feels like the peak holiday season of December last year when traffic snarls had brought all traffic to a halt and it would take hours to get to the other side. The biggest problem is the Cortalim junction where you have commuters coming from Vasco who have to take the approach road to Zuari bridge as well as those coming from Margao,” added Ravija Bhembre who has to commute to the Verna Industrial Estate on a daily basis.
“I don’t know how the problem can be rectified as there are traffic police manning the junctions. Something has gone wrong in the last month as these roads which are the main arterial roads get choked too often. People who have to reach work on time or say even catch a flight get delayed. There has to be constant supervision and better coordination across strategic points at the highway. Perhaps with better communication, there can be on the spot decisions,” said Soraya D’souza who lives in Cortalim.
Locals from Cortalim point out to an incident during the peak hour chaos of December –January where they would come on the street and help direct and regulate traffic and how such small intervention makes a difference.
But what has been another bone of contention is the increasing number of potholes that are emerging on the roads, especially the sections that were recently widened to make way for the ongoing construction work for the new bridge. “They could check on this before the monsoons. The roads are so bad it causes damage to vehicles and can cause two-wheelers to lose balance. There is no proper waterway so there is a lot of water on the roads and you cannot see these potholes properly,” adds Arun Kamat from Margao.
Poor visibility has been a big risk for commuters especially at night with no street lights for 80 per cent of the stretch. “You have stray cattle at Bambolim. You have all these diversions and if you can’t see where the diversion starts you can ram into them. With the rains and no streetlights you can hardly see the road properly and it is an accident waiting to happen,” added Jeffery Rodrigues from Nuvem.
While the National Highway Authority along with the power department needs to check on the status of the streetlights and quality of roads, it would be unfortunate if they wake up only after accident takes place,” laments Sanjeev Dessai. [H]