CHENNAI: Wall Tax Road, adjacent to Central railway station, despite being an important route connecting central parts of the city to North Chennai, is riddled with potholes and broken medians. While many sections of the road has been in a bad state for many months, the recent rain has made the situation worse. For instance, near Elephant Gate bus stop, bitumen has completely disappeared and the road has not been levelled.
Similarly, the stretch near Basin Bridge junction too is not motorable and has not been relaid for a long time.
Running parallel to Buckingham Canal, this road has a place in history. It is said that when Mysore ruler Hyder Ali decided to attack the neighbourhoods, the British, in a move to protect the Black Town, built a wall around the town. Meanwhile, a 50-feet road was built and tax was imposed. People protested against it. It is believed, Wall Tax Road eventually derived its name thus.
However, some nonagenarians who have been selling dry-fish for decades in the 200-year-old market there said the name ‘Wall Tax’ could have been derived because the British taxed goods ferried through Buckingham Canal.
Even though the road seems to have had a rich history, it suffers from poor maintenance. The median had collapsed at many place and debris has not been cleared. Nor repair work has been done.
As median is missing at many places, cattle let loose by owners, freely cross the road. “It is dangerous when cattle freely cross the road,’’ said Sunil S, a daily commuter. This reporter also observed several times dozens of cows walking on the road during office hours. Many even lie near the median.
Though buses from Elephant Gate passing through this road have been temporarily re-routed, this road is still crucial for buses from Central. Besides, nearly 1000 share autos and cars use the road daily. Two-wheeler users complain of bodily pain due to bad condition of the road. “I have become numb to these bumps and potholes now. I suffer joint and back pain,’’ added Sunil. At present, heavy vehicles are restricted on Elephant Gate bridge as it is being reconstructed.
Hence, these vehicles have been diverted to Basin Bridge route. Corporation officials told Express that work was tardy because of constant traffic diversions. “We will patch up the potholes and level the bumps, but maintenance of the whole road could be done only when traffic diversions are loosened and storm water drain work is over,’’ an official said.