Toll naka sees traffic crawl daily
Authorities blame the hold-up on truck drivers, deny that the delays are caused by inadequate staff
VASHI: The Vashi toll naka has for some time now been seeing regular traffic snarls, leading to the motorists having a harrowing time.
Authorities said haphazard and illegal parking by heavy vehicles at the octroi naka, poor road conditions and lack of traffic signal except at Vashi gaon on Sion Panvel highway and also the holiday crowd are some of the reasons for the massive traffic hold-up.
There are around 1 lakh to 1.20 lakh vehicles passing the toll plaza every day from and towards Mumbai.
Motorists are complaining that they have been experiencing delays at the toll naka every day.
Ashish Gupta, who travels from Kopar Khairane to Mumbai every day, said: “The situation is bad during the morning and evening peak hours. However, that is not the only time that we face delays. The situation is not good at other times either.”
Nitin Sonawane, a commuter from Vashi, said: “The road widening and other infrastructure improvement work at the toll plaza and along the route make little difference when you lose precious time in the serpentine queue at the toll plaza.”
He said that the toll plaza authorities should take concrete steps and increase their manpower and infrastructure to resolve the issue.
The toll plaza authorities deny that the delays are caused by lack of proper arrangements or inadequate staff at the toll plaza.
Toll plaza manager Vijay Bhalerao said, “We have around 325 personnel working in three shifts at the toll plaza with over 100 present in each shift. Hence, there is no question of inadequate staff.”
He added, “We have also increased the number of toll collection sections from 14 to 18 by installing additional booths at a short distance from the original toll collection booths to speed up the toll collection process.”
According to Bhalerao, the trucks and other heavy vehicles stuck at the octroi are the major cause of traffic snarls. “They park their vehicles on both sides of the road, causing traffic jams,” he said.
Sometime they try to evade police action. “They take a U-turn at the traffic signal near the octroi and head towards
the toll naka through the creek bridge. Just before the toll naka, they again take a U-turn and head towards the octroi naka.”
Bhalerao also cited the holiday for the increase in traffic on both sides of the road. “There are a number of people heading out of the city and many who are returning,” he said.
Speaking of another reason for vehicles piling up at the toll plaza, Bhalerao said, “Following the Sion-Panvel highway expansion, motorists do not have to halt at any traffic signal between Belapur and the toll plaza, except at Vashi gaon, as they take the flyovers at the junctions. They have a virtual free run till the toll plaza and hence we have such a large number of vehicles gathering at the toll plaza at once.”
There were several motorists seen arguing with the toll plaza employees on Wednesday.
Bhalerao said, “There is no toll exemption for private cars. We have strict instructions from our seniors to book cases against those who refuse to pay the toll. There are no government orders to the effect.”
Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a common sight near Vashi toll naka every day.