Three consecutive government holidays and heavy crowd of passengers besieging the bus terminus to leave for their hometowns, besides arrival and departure of vehicles carrying vegetables, fruits and banana plants ahead of Pooja turned Friday evening into a nightmare for people moving around Koyambedu.
Those returning from other areas of Tamil Nadu had to wait for several hours in their vehicles as the buses started crawling from Maduravoyal all the way to Koyambedu.
As the traffic came to a standstill about two kilometre from Chennai Moffusil Bus Terminus, the buses which usually reach the Koyambedu roundabout were routed through the market area, which further added to the chaos.
The market resembled a besieged fortress, as the vehicles surrounded it, moving at a snail’s pace. Those who wanted to step out of the buses and walk to the terminus did not have the space to do so, as two wheelers, cars, trucks and mini-vans were vying with one another to move forward. While those who came with their families were stuck inside, those with athletic abilities were able to jump out and wade through the streaming traffic.
Traffic police were seen struggling to clear the way for vehicles. As elders were frowning and looking at their watches each and every minute, children were seen enjoying the festive atmosphere, with loud horns and angry shouts all around.
One of the bus passengers who was coming from Villupuram explained his nightmarish experience. “It took around two-and-half hours to reach Perungalathur from Villupuram. But, it took more time to reach Koyambedu from Maduravoyal, turning the Villupuram to Chennai journey into a six-hour ordeal. It will be better if the government expedites the construction of a new terminus near Vandalur,” he said.
A trader, who had purchased vegetables, fruits and other items from the market to be sold for Pooja celebrations, said he was caught unawares.
“I came at around 4 pm and there was not much traffic at that time. But, as soon as I completed my purchase and loaded them on the mini-van, the place resembled a battleground. It seems I will be able to reach my shop at Saidapet at around 9 or 10 in the night,” he said.
The MTC buses which were coming out from the terminus too were caught in the traffic congestion.
“I bought all the vegetables, fruits and other items today itself, as the market will be too crowded tomorrow. But, I am waiting for a bus to Saligramam for about an hour. All the buses are stranded outside and the few buses which manage to come inside are too crowded. I will not be able to get inside with all my bags,” a woman, spotted with heavy shopping bags, said.
One of the TNSTC bus conductors, who got down from his vehicle to guide his driver said that coming to Koyambedu on festival days has become a tough task.