CHENNAI: When Ravikumar left his home in Madhavaram at 8 am on Wednesday to get to Minjur, little did he know that it would turn into a four- hour ordeal of sitting in his car, steaming under a particularly hot December sun.
But steam he did, courtesy the snarling traffic jam brought about by the thousands of container trucks trying to enter Chennai Port.
It is to prevent jams like this that the Chennai Port has finally shifted into gear. According to senior officials, plans are afoot to begin regulating container traffic a lot further away than it currently is — at Eranavur village near Ennore Port.
While generally prone to bumper to bumper traffic due to the large numbers of container trucks parked along the road, Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were particularly bad.
According to traffic policemen and people stuck in the jam, the Manali Junction on the Manali High Road and the 100 feet road was host to unmoving traffic from late Tuesday night.
“This is what generally happens every time a ship docks. Every container truck tries to rush into the Port and most get stuck outside, causing huge jams. Today was particularly bad, because three ships have docked,” said a traffic police official.
The officials from the port and traffic police are attempting to solve the chronic issue by putting into place a new system.
A senior port official told Express that container trucks coming into Chennai Port would now have to be regulated from far outside the port, possibly at Ernavur village near Ennore Port.
“Chennai Port officials are going to hold discussions with the Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) by the middle of next month to stop these container trucks at Ernavur,” said the official. “This has been an ongoing problem. Whenever, the ships enter the terminal, every truck operator wants a share of the cargo. They park their vehicles on the stretch so that they can export the cargo as well as return with imported cargo,” said the official.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that Chennai Port does not have separate gates for import cargo and export cargo. “It has been difficult to implement this due to non-cooperation from truck operators,” admitted officials. The statement is only buttressed by the ineffectiveness of earlier measures. In 2014, the customs department issued a notice which said that a trailer bound to the port had to come via the container freight station and would be allowed to enter the port only after proper documentation. But the system could not be adhered to due to the indiscipline of Trailer Owners’ Association.
Meanwhile, Chennai Port is also planning to do away with the manual processing methodology to track the container system and is coming up with a Radio Frequency Identification based container tracking system. This has already been tested through the container freight station, customs and terminal operators.
“The system will be in place by February next year,” said the official.
While the Chennai Port is optimistic that the system would ease congestion, it has to be seen how effectively the authorities would be able to implement them.